TESPA takes action to halt rock crushing plant

Staff Report

WIMBERLEY – A proposed quarry and rock crushing plant in Hays County is not getting the green light from all sides.

The Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association (TESPA) has sent the attached Notice of Intent (NOI) to sue Far South Mining LLC to stop the proposed quarry and rock crushing plant on the Needmore Ranch between Wimberley and San Marcos.

The legal action seeks to protect groundwater in the Edwards Aquifer Authority’s jurisdictional “red zone” and endangered species living in the karst aquifer that flows out at Fern Bank Springs into the Blanco River and nearby San Marcos Springs. TESPA aims to protect the water and endangered species through the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act and Edwards Aquifer Protection Plan.   

There are concerns that the operation would likely cause “take” of several endangered species including the Comal Springs Dryopid Beetle, Golden-cheeked Warbler, San Marcos Springs Salamander and Texas Blind Salamander, while also polluting water in the aquifer. 

Under the Endangered Species Act, the Fern Bank Springs at Needmore Ranch is designated as a “critical habitat” for the Comal Springs Dryopid Beetle.

“TESPA is taking this action in our role to protect and preserve our groundwater, aquifers, springs, the Blanco River, and this area of the Hill Country,” stated Patrick Cox, TESPA Executive Director. “Far South Mining LLC’s proposed quarry and rock crushing operation on the Needmore Ranch pose real threats to federally protected endangered species and their designated critical habitat, and to this very sensitive aquifer and groundwater. This proposed operation should be immediately canceled.”

TESPA’s NOI letter lays out the threats and harms that will result from the proposed rock mining and crushing operation, such as: lowering of local groundwater and surface water levels from mining operations and dewatering, changes in turbidity levels in groundwater/surface water due to blasting and quarry operation, interruption of groundwater conduit flow paths by rock removal and/or blasting in karst systems, temperature change (thermal impacts) in springs and surface water streams, seismic impacts to endangered species, impacts to groundwater/surface water quality from hazardous chemical spills and blasting residuals, impacts from point and nonpoint sources of dust to surface water and groundwater from stormwater runoff and fugitive dust, destruction of sensitive superficial karst features, such as caves, disruption of natural drainage patterns and stream morphology, pollution from residues of nitrates and petroleum products accumulating in the stormwater runoff and groundwater from the ammonium nitrate blasting slurry and related activities, and leaks and spills of petroleum products from equipment as well as the risk of outright spills.

In doing this, TESPA seeks to prevent Far South Mining LLC (FSM) from moving forward with its proposed quarry operations on 185 acres with activities that involve blasting, operation of heavy equipment, rock crushing and the transport of an estimated at least 100 truckloads of rock per day. 

“Texas has the most polluted water in the United States,” said Jeff Mundy, TESPA’s attorney.  “This area of the Edwards Aquifer is some of the best quality water remaining in the state. When I was a boy, we camped, swam and drank the water straight from the Blanco River. We must protect our rivers, aquifers and groundwater so future generations have the same opportunities for clean, safe water.”

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