EP files permit for wells in white zone

Staff report

 

Electro Purification, the Houston-based private water firm that’s been the center of the Hays County water wars, has filed a temporary permit with the Barton Springs Edward’s Aquifer Conservation District’s newly formed groundwater management zone.

According to a BSCEAD press release, EP is one of four large permits that trigger varying degrees of aquifer testing. Needmore, LLC, Aqua Texas, and Texas Old Town also submitted a permit that requires aquifer testing.

Those tests will happen within the next six months to verify that pumping the proposed volume will not cause unreasonable impacts on surrounding wells and will not affect the District’s ability to achieve the desired future condition for the aquifer. 

The process toward EP and others submitting a permit began after legislation was introduced during the height of the water wars recently.

The legislation was in response to Electro Purification, which is planning to develop a water well field in western Hays County.

EP plans to pump up to 32,590,000 gallons of water per year from Trinity Aquifer. The entity is currently contracted with three entities, including the City of Buda, Goforth Water Supply Company and Clark Wilson, developer of the proposed Anthem subdivision in Mountain City. 

But legislation by State Rep. Jason Issac (R-Dripping Springs) made its way through the House of Representatives in June that extended the boundaries of the District.

Those boundaries were extended to include what’s described as “white zones,” or unregulated portions, of the Trinity Aquifer.

The legislation has led the four entities to apply for aquifer testing.

According to the district’s release, the larger the permit, the more extensive the monitoring network for the aquifer test.

These four permits were part of the 21 temporary permit applications the district received that are undergoing review.

The district’s temporary permit period, which closed on Sept. 19, allowed new permittees the chance to submit paperwork without application fees.

In the coming months, the District will work with landowners to establish appropriate monitoring networks for the aquifer tests. 

The District will be looking for wells to take periodic water level measurements at various distances surrounding the pumping centers. In large part, the monitoring network is well advanced in the EP area. 

The District will be looking for willing well owners near the Needmore Ranch to serve as monitoring sites to establish baseline conditions and during the aquifer test.

The BSCEAD says water level measurements are voluntary. According to the District, once they know about the aquifer dynamics and surrounding wells, the more informed permit decision can be.

District staff uses registered wells to help establish the monitoring network, calculate local groundwater demands, and inform the permit decision.

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