City of Kyle Proposes
Bridge Over the Blanco River
The City of Kyle has proposed inclusion of a bridge across the Blanco River in the Capital Area Metropolitan Organization's (CAMPO) 2040 Plan. The proposed Blanco-Nance Bridge would connect future developments in Kyle to the City of San Marcos. The proposal drew criticism from members of the public at a CAMPO meeting on September 11th, as the City of Kyle submitted it to CAMPO without input from City Council or an opportunity for citizens to comment. CAMPO Chairman and Hays County Commissioner Will Conley said that the proposal is premature, as it is not part of the City of Kyle's transportation plan and stakeholders need time to discuss various concerns and planning options. Conley publicly stated that he will recommend that the CAMPO Board vote to not include the Blanco-Nance Bridge in the CAMPO 2040 Plan at this juncture. Read more here.
The Blanco-Nance Bridge will encourage development over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone that would threaten streams, springs and groundwater quality with additional run-off and sewage discharge, threaten water quantity with additional aquifer pumping, place downstream communities in peril by increasing floodwater volumes and frequency in the Blanco and San Marcos River watersheds, and place an onerous financial burden on the public to benefit private development interests.
Submit Comments to CAMPO by September 21st
It is important that CAMPO hear from citizens of Hays County who are concerned about the negative impacts construction of this bridge will have on the way of life in this region. This is just the beginning of the conversation about this project, and all voices need to be heard early in the process. TESPA has prepared a sample letter that you can download here and submit with your own personal information. Comments must be received by September 21st and can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proposed Location of Blanco-Nance Bridge
Attend the Hill Country Alliance's Leadership Summit on September 21st
TESPA's own Jim Blackburn will be speaking at the Hill Country Alliance's Leadership Summit next week about protecting Hill Country water. Don't forget to register! This is an incredible opportunity to collaborate and share inspiration with other Hill Country residents and leaders. You can register here.
Jim Blackburn presenting to the Texas League of Women Voters in June.
TESPA Receives $15,000 Grant
from Save Barton Creek Association (SBCA)
TESPA is excited to announce that it was awarded a $15,000 grant by the Save Barton Creek Association (SBCA) to help cover costs associated with TESPA’s contested case hearing challenging a proposed groundwater production permit that the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) has issued to Needmore Water, LLC.TESPA was granted standing by the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) this past July. TESPA Is very grateful for and honored to have SBCA's support and looks forward to collaborating with SBCA on future projects.
Barton Creek. David Parsons Images.
A Texas Plan for the Texas Coast
In addition to his interest in protecting groundwater in the Hill Country, TESPA President Jim Blackburn has been busy talking and writing about how to protect fragile coastal ecosystems and pioneering solutions to address flooding in urban areas like Houston. Jim recently published a book, A Texas Plan for the Texas Coast, which sets out a plan to protect the coast based on economics rather than regulation. The book is currently available on Amazon Kindle (amazon.com) and will be available through Texas A&M University Press soon.
Jim was also featured on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow show discussing the recent flooding in Houston and his work at Rice University's SSPEED Center related to the Texas Coastal Exchange, a program designed to mitigate flooding by encouraging the conservation of coastal habitat (which acts as a buffer) through the donation and purchase of development rights. You can read more about it here. This same concept can also apply to groundwater protection--conserving land means conserving and protecting groundwater.
TESPA is very grateful for Jim's leadership and creative thinking, and we are honored to have him on our team.
Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts Summit
TESPA Executive Director and General Counsel, Vanessa Puig-Williams, recently participated on the case law panel at the 2017 Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts Summit. Vanessa updated the audience on current groundwater case law, including TESPA's administrative action against Needmore Water LLC's proposed permit at the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. The panel had a good discussion about the rights of landowners who wish to conserve their groundwater in place. It is clear that more and more landowners are concerned about their groundwater being drained from beneath their land by large scale pumping projects and are taking legal steps to protect it. TESPA has played a role in driving this conversation.
TESPA Executive Director, Vanessa Puig-Williams speaking on the TAGD Case Law Panel, August 2017.
Law Requires TESPA to Pay for SOAH Hearing
Under Section 36.416(c) of the Water Code, the party requesting a hearing at the State Office of Administrative Hearings must pay the costs for the hearing. Consequently, TESPA had to pay for the entire cost of the administrative hearing in the Needmore Water, LLC case--an amount totaling over $30,000--even though Needmore will be able to make its own arguments at the hearing against the proposed permit that Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District has issued. This law is unjust and illogical and results in a substantial financial burden for small non profits as well as for individual landowners who wish to defend their property rights in an objective setting. TESPA believes this requirement may violate the Open Courts provision of the Constitution and plans to work to change this law next session.
TESPA has a tremendous amount of work to do to affect legal and policy changes in Texas groundwater law to ensure that our aquifers are not mined. We count on the financial support of our members to fund this work. Please consider making a donation or sharing our work with your network.