By Tim Doty
Open letter to Texas Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), Chair, Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs
As the spokesman for the Sierra West Subdivision Property Owners Association that represents 140 homeowners and 400 – 500 residents, I wanted to tell you that our residents support Texas Senate Bill (SB) 1440 that places our unregulated aquifer in the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District.
I contacted the staff of Texas Rep. Isaac, Texas Sen. Campbell, and all of the representatives on your committee. Technical discussions have resulted in a common theme. Everyone thinks you are responsible for preventing an up/down vote on SB 1440.
SB 1440 is strongly supported by local communities, as proven by 6,000 petition signatures, several resolutions from eight nearby cities, three counties, school boards, homeowners associations, and the Hays County Republican and Democratic parties.
It is clear that you have been heavily lobbied by Electro Purification (EP) and its lobbyists. As stated in the Texas House Natural Resource Committee public hearing, placing the aquifer in a water conservation zone will not automatically cancel the EP water contract to pump up to 5.3 million gallons a day and 1.9 billion gallons a year. This proposed legislation will provide regulatory oversight so that our aquifer has adequate water for existing users, while providing wise planning for future consumers.
What about EP’s mitigation plan for possible negative affects to current water well owners? Will current wells run dry, need to be lowered, need different pumps with increased horsepower, and/or have a drop in water quality? Will EP have an impartial third party handle the money in escrow to ensure that there is money available to fund any and all of these negative impacts? You do not have the answer to any of these questions? Neither do Hays County residents, as an EP mitigation plan has not been shared.
The only scientific data that exists are the results from the seven EP water test wells that have been drilled. Though model calculations can sometimes provide a general insight into predicting expected environmental conditions, they are only as accurate as the factors, assumptions, and variables that are inputted into equations. With respect to water drawdown, EP has presented the results of one set of assumptions and scenarios. What do you think would happen to the aquifer levels if the assumptions and variables are changed involving flow, transmissivity, storativity, bore size, and pump horsepower?
If you believe water resources are overregulated, why not propose legislation to overturn the regulatory oversight of the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District that helps regulate the Ogallala Aquifer in your home Panhandle district?
Though you openly tout strong water conservation measures to your own constituents, you have been unwilling to support a local water bill. With all due respect, please look at other elected officials such as Reps. Isaac, Larson, King, and Frank and Sens. Campbell, Zaffirini, and Watson as examples of leadership.
Residents respectively request your support of an up/down Committee vote so that it can be pushed forward to the full Senate for a debate.