Houston firm renews water request from aquifer district
A Houston-based firm at the center of controversy in 2015 is now looking to draw roughly one billion gallons of water per year from the Trinity Aquifer.
Electro Purification (EP), which had failed in its attempt to secure water in 2015, submitted a request to the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) to pump water from wells on land located between Kyle and Wimberley.
EP’s application was submitted on July 13, 2017 to the BSEACD for the purposes of wholesale water supply. The request for 912.5 million gallons annually amounts to pumping 2.5 million gallons of water from the Trinity Aquifer per day.
The BSEACD has authority over that portion of the Trinity Aquifer as a result of the 2015 Save our Wells bill.
The bill was crafted, and later signed into law, after EP attempted in 2015 to pump close to 1.8 billion gallons of water annually from the Cow Creek formation of the Trinity Aquifer, which at the time was unregulated. The request led to a months-long fight between EP and concerned residents.
“This doesn’t necessarily mean they will be issued their permit as is,” said Vanessa Escobar, regulatory compliance coordinator for the BSEACD. “We are currently reviewing the permit package and aquifer data and analysis and forming a staff recommendation.”
On April 13, EP submitted a proposed Compliance Monitoring Plan created by Wet Rock Groundwater Services LLC, outlining test wells for monitoring of the aquifer.
According to the report, EP currently has seven test wells located near FM 3237 between Ranch Road 12 and FM 150.
Escobar said BSEACD’s goal is to assess the long-term impact this much pumping would have on the aquifer and nearby well owners.
“If passed as is, it would be the largest groundwater pumping from both the Trinity and Edwards Aquifer,” Escobar said. “For the Trinity Aquifer in particular, this magnitude of pumping really doesn’t come close with other permits.”
At the end of May, the BSEACD will hold a 20-day period when residents and community members in Hays County can submit comments in regard to the permit.
If there is no contested case hearing for the permit, EP could potentially be granted the permit, if approved by BSEACD, within a couple of months from the end of May.
Vanessa Puig-Williams, executive director and counsel to the Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association (TESPA), said there are many unknowns with regard to the long-term impacts to the Aquifer.
“TESPA does not believe that anyone should be producing groundwater for large-scale commercial projects from the Trinity Aquifer in Hays County,” Puig-Williams said. “The aquifer is already declining and recharges extremely slow.”
Puig-Williams said there is community concern but comfort knowing BSEACD has jurisdiction over the proposed area.
“I think the community also recognizes the pressure that BSEACD is under,” she said. “We hope this will result in BSEACD substantially reducing the permit request.”