New rules for well owners after EP fight

By Barbara Hopson

More than 200 people attended a Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District meeting at the Wimberley Community Center Monday night. The presentation by BSEACD Board President Mary Stone and General Manager John Dupnik was aimed at informing well owners in the recently enlarged BSEACD area of how they can register with the district.

Texas House Bill 3405 was passed by the 84th Legislature, in large part because of the controversial issues surrounding Electro Purification’s test wells in the unregulated white zone of the Middle Trinity Aquifer. Earlier this year, community activists, most from Wimberley and the Rollingwood subdivision in Driftwood, protested EP’s project which was meant to supply water to three separate entities on the eastern side of Hays County.

The bill brings some of those “white zones” in Hays County under the protection of BSEACD. All non-exempt wells must be registered, but according to BSEACD rules, exempt wells (e.g., low-capacity domestic and livestock wells) are not required to be permitted. 

Owners of non-exempt wells will undergo a two-step permitting procedure. They will first apply (before Sept. 19, 2015) for a temporary permit, which is valid for 90 days. At the end of that time, the owner will apply for a regular permit, which could be for a smaller volume of water than for the temporary permit. No fees or meters will be required under the rules. 

Registering the well will mean owners can be notified of actions which may affect their wells and of any programs which BSEACD offers.

State Representative Jason Isaac and Hays County Commissioner Will Conley spoke at the meeting, thanking citizens for rallying behind their successful efforts to pass HB 3405. Citizens in turn roundly applauded both elected officials for the legislation. State Senator Donna Campbell was unable to attend, but sent thanks via her policy advisor, John Oliver.

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