Aquifer district mulls over Henly-area concrete batch plant water request

A concrete company’s plan to pump close to 9 million gallons of water from the Trinity Aquifer for its Henly-area batch plant is bubbling up concern from nearby neighbors.

Lauren Concrete Inc., owners of a batch plant near Henly that generated controversy when it was proposed in 2018, submitted an application to the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD) to pump 8,126,724 gallons per year from the aquifer. 

HTGCD Hydrogeologist Jeff Watson said the permit request, which amounts to 24.95 acre-feet of water, would be the 15th largest water production permit of 85 that are currently active, if approved.

“Comparing it to a larger permit at 1,100 acre-feet, it’s around 2 percent of those large permits,” Watson said.

Watson said the permit compared to water supply companies is small. However, compared to household usage, HTGCD officials estimate the permit is comparable to around 67 new homes coming online in the Dripping Springs area.

Per the application’s process, Lauren Concrete was required to perform a 48-hour pumping test. Experts study these tests to determine the potential drawdown and impact on the aquifer. 

But efforts are being made by the district to mitigate pumping. 

Lauren Concrete will capture rainwater to lessen its groundwater pumping needs, according to the permit. The company will pave 57,750 square feet of its property to capture rainwater. 

HTGCD estimates the system will capture 26,000 gallons of rainwater during a one-inch rain event. 

The application is in administrative review, said HTGCD Manager Rick Braun. 

For residents who are opposed to the permit, they now wait for that review.  

Dripping Springs resident Elenore Goode is in opposition to the permit, citing concerns about the damage the pumping could potentially have on the aquifer. 

“This aquifer has already suffered severe degradation from its historical norms of high-pressure flow, as detailed by innumerable accounts from every kind of inhabitant of early Texas,” Goode said. 

Goode said residents don’t feel that their loss of the aquifer should be seen as an acceptable or necessary result for business. 

A more mutual solution for aquifer extraction permit requests could be to enforce minimum requirements for rainwater capture and storage significant enough to offset the demand, Goode said. 

Such requirements will be costly to the private sector, which Goode believes subsidize the cost of damage created to the community. 

“I hope we are able to come to reasonable solutions in these situations that will not leave us poised to the next place featured in an article about small towns being pumped dry by the industrial enterprises of their expanding urban neighborhoods,” she said. 

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