Alcoa should say more about water well plans

Dear editor,

On the request from Alcoa Sandow Mines for water production in South Milam County. I do not hide my bias or my reasons.

Two wells affect me directly,. Each is placed to meet the minimum well offset of 1,000 feet from my active well, the only functioning well on my land since 1994.

While this well placement scheme is completely legal under Texas’ archaic water law, their creat ing it mocks the Good Neighbor Award Alcoa touted in this paper two weeks ago.

Alcoa postponed the permit meeting for public comment until September as requested by affected landowners.

Still they have not precisely explained what industrial development need is driving their quest for 24 new wells that along with existing wells will pump 25,000 acre feet of water per year.

To place 25,000 acre feet of water into perspective, consider water wells, it was reported that during the height of the 2011 drought, Rockdale was pumping almost 2 million gallons of water daily.

Alcoa’s permit request, if approved, will allow pumping of over 22 million gallons of water per day every day, drought or no drought. According to their notice, 28 historic use wells will remain outside of this permit application.

I asked an entrepreneurial friend, who owns waste recycling facilities, if the water needed for the recycling set forth in Table 1-1 of Alcoa’s original permit request for municipal recycling was reasonable.

Fully explaining that he did not have all of the facts, he nevertheless could not imagine why that much water was needed for municipal waste recycling, even if he assumed large scale recycling of newsprint, metal and plastics.

Are their planned facilities wasteful? Beneficial? Of equal or greater importance he suggested that one of the questions asked must be about how Alcoa is going to handle the waste water generated by recycling.

Generously assuming 75% evaporation and destruction of water by each of the 10 potential development projects listed in the permit application, what is Alcoa going to do with over 5.5 million gallons of waste water left over from each day’s production?

In the past, they pumped water from the pits into the watersheds of Allen Creek and the Yegua both of which eventually feed to the Brazos.

I can show you an Allen Creek in my part of the county devoid of all the aquatic life that once thrived there.

Their pumped water contained coal silt and ultimately killed every fish and frog in the creek. Many of their wells, if they should leak, will also drain over our lands toward Allen Creek adding more silt to the course of the waterway.

I was assured that the warer district will prevent Alcoa from wasting water by placing reasonable restrictions on Alcoa’s water production and use, see that the water is pumped for a beneficial purpose, protect the aquifers from harm and safeguard the interests of all who use the aquifers below our lands for sustaining life and livelihood.

They do not intend, and I don’t want them to become Alcoa’s “Big Brother,” but yet I hope they live up to the standard they hold for themselves.

Knowing that POSGCD is not a protector of surface waterways and lands, then who is? That I believe is the State of Texas and they do not seem to be involved although I believe they should be.

For Alcoa’s part, I suggest that they act with less corporate arrogance and be up front about their intended development projects.

Remaining closed mouth earns Alcoa few friends, further antagonizes those who question their intent and ends up causing a game of “Who Do You Trust,” trust being in short supply.

Join us at the meet ing at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 11 and provide your input to POSGCD as they consider Alcoa’s permit request.

Jim McDaniel
Fairfax Station, Virginia

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2012-08-16 digital edition

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