Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund (SAWDF)

New Group Launches Fight To Protect Local Groundwater and Aquifers

BastropCoCourthouse2

Bastrop County Court House

ELGIN – Veterans of a long-standing fight to protect the area’s groundwater have joined forces and launched a new organization to help lead that effort.

The new group, the Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund (SAWDF), includes volunteers from the League of Independent Voters, Environmental Stewardship, Sierra Club and Neighbors for Neighbors.

SEE END OF THIS POST FOR LINKS TO ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

SAWDF response to Bastrop Advertiser’s misleading article on July 21, 2016.

Among the group’s efforts will be informing local citizens about the threat posed by water marketers’ efforts to pump vast quantities of local groundwater to San Antonio and other cities along the I-35 corridor.

SAWDF, which has filed with the Internal Revenue Service for qualification as a “501(c)(3)” tax-exempt organization, also will be raising funds to assist area landowners in defending their legal rights to protect their groundwater.

“It’s not only landowners that are threatened,” said SAWDF board member Michele Gangnes, a Lee County attorney and resident. “Maintaining the aquifers is vital to the continued well-being of our communities.”

Gangnes said several upcoming legal battles will provide good opportunities to protect the area’s groundwater resources.

The Aquifer Protectors! From L to R, Eric Allmon (attorney for Environmental Stewardship), Michele Gangnes (pro bono attorney for landowners Meyer, Hanna and Brown), Andy Meyer (Paige landowner), Darwyn Hanna (Bastrop landowner), Ernie Bogart (pro bono attorney for landowners Meyer, Hanna and Brown), Betz Brown (Lee County landowner), Don Grissom (pro bono attorney for landowners Meyer, Hanna and Brown), Steve Box (Executive Director Environmental Stewardship)

The Aquifer Protectors! From L to R, Eric Allmon (attorney for Environmental Stewardship), Michele Gangnes (pro bono attorney for landowners Meyer, Hanna and Brown), Andy Meyer (Paige landowner), Darwyn Hanna (Bastrop landowner), Ernie Bogart (pro bono attorney for landowners Meyer, Hanna and Brown), Betz Brown (Lee County landowner), Don Grissom (pro bono attorney for landowners Meyer, Hanna and Brown), Steve Box (Executive Director Environmental Stewardship)

Among the first of these battles is a Bastrop County district court hearing expected this fall. At issue are the rights of landowners to be represented in the well permitting process when the groundwater under their land is threatened by massive pumping.

The Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District denied several area landowners the right to that representation.

“We believe the district’s denial of that right was unfair and improper,” said Ernie Bogart, another SAWDF board member and Elgin attorney. “Now we need our communities’ help in raising money to ensure we make the best effort we can to win these legal battles.”

Bogart said it’s vital to challenge the groundwater district’s denial of party status to the landowners.

“Otherwise, no landowner, large or small, will be allowed to challenge well permits unless their well is pumping from the ‘right’ aquifer,” he said.

Bogart said donations to SAWDF can be made by sending a check made out to Simsboro Water Defense Fund to: SAWDF, P.O. Box 690, Elgin, TX 78621-0690.

A website for SAWDF with the ability to accept donations, which are tax deductible, is under development.

Groundwater from the Simsboro aquifer already is being pumped in Burleson County and transported via pipeline across Lee County to the Manor area. The Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District has permitted another 50,000 acre-feet per year for transport from Burleson County over a 142-mile pipeline to San Antonio, starting in 2020.

“Greedy water marketers already have permits granted or pending before the Lost Pines groundwater district that will export more massive amounts of groundwater to the cities and suburbs,” said Andy Meyer, a Bastrop County farmer and SAWF board member. “Our goal is to make sure the amounts exported are kept within limits that secure the long-term health of our aquifers.”

For more information, Gangnes can be contacted at 512-461-3179 or mggangnes@aol.com and Bogart at 512-281-3326 or ebogart@obrlaw.net.

Simsboro_pumping

Drawdown of the Simsboro Aquifer from Proposed Groundwater Pumping for Export to San Antonio and the I-35 corrisor.

More background on the area’s groundwater and efforts to protect it can also be found on the following links:

Landowners’ Affected Persons Appeal

End Op Contested Case Hearing and Landowners’ Appeals

End Op Permit Status

Impact of Simsboro Pumping on Other Aquifers and Rivers

SAWDF response to Bastrop Advertiser’s misleading article on July 21, 2016.

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