By Ashley Sava
A potential new threat to the Trinity Aquifer, and possibly local wells, has Wimberley residents and some elected officials up in arms. They are worried that local residential wells may dry up from over pumpage by an outside company.
Electro Purification, which has offices in Houston and New Mexico according to its website, set up wells in a ranch across from the Rolling Oaks subdivision on FM 3237. The firm plans to pump more than 1.5 billion gallons of water a year from the Trinity Aquifer.
That equates to about 4.3 million gallons of water each day.
The majority of Wimberley Valley relies on this aquifer for its water.
“I’m concerned that this is so much water that the wells will dry up,” Wimberley resident Debra Johnson said.
The water is being allotted for municipal sale for future eastern Hays County development and is contracted to companies such as Goforth Water Supply in Niederwald.
Electro Purification staff would not comment on whether or not this is a safe number to pump or whether it would have a negative impact on local residential wells.
Hays County itself is no stranger to finding water in other places. The commissioners entered a $1 million agreement with Forestar last year to reserve water from Lee County.
Two weeks ago, Hays County Commissioner Will Conley posted a comment on his Facebook page about the situation in Wimberley: “There is a company called Electro Purification that has found a loop hole in our ground water management jurisdictions in Hays County. They are now out in other parts of Hays County trying to find customers for water. Western Hays County isn’t a water rich area. What they are claiming to distribute is a very large amount of water. Officials in our County have worked hard trying to work with others to facilitate alternative water resources for all of Hays County and especially Western Hays County. Now we have this happening.”
The loophole is known as a “White Zone” among water experts. Essentially, Electro Purification drilled the wells in an area within the Edwards Aquifer Authority’s (EAA) district, but the EAA does not have regulatory power over the Trinity Aquifer.
Just a few miles west of the wells, the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District has the power to permit wells, but its jurisdiction ends where the EAA’s begins.
“I am very aware of the Electro Purification project and am extremely concerned about its potential impact on the Trinity Aquifer,” Doc Jones of Hays County Trinity Groundwater Conservation District 5, said.
He continued, “The Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District is charged by the state to manage the Trinity groundwater within our district, but these wells are just outside our district boundaries. There has been a tremendous amount of discussion about it already, I understand County Commissioner Will Conley and State Representative Jason Isaac are also aware and concerned.”
The Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District will discuss the matter at a meeting next Wednesday, Jan. 21. It takes place beginning at 6 p.m.at the Wimberley Community Center. The public is encouraged to attend. Tim Throckmorton from Electro Purification said Tuesday that a company representative may attend the meeting.
What is Electro Purification?
According to the firm’s website, Electro Purification is a leader in water remediation technology. The company also designs, constructs and operates groundwater supply systems to provide cities with wholesale water.
Under a section called Wholesale Water Supply Operations, the website had the following:
“Our group has established two Texas limited partnerships formed to design, construct and operate groundwater supply systems to provide wholesale water to cities in Central Texas. One entity has contracted to supply up to 5 million gallons of water per day to a city over a 50-year period. This entity’s water supply system consists of a 26-mile transmission line and related easements, a pump station, a 250,000 gallon blending tank, and a well field, which exists on approximately 1000 acres leased from landowners. The second system consists of a water well field and a 3 mile transmission line. In this situation, the entity owns the land on which the production wells are located.”