Electro purification (EP) has been granted a temporary permit allowing the company to pump 100 ft/acres a day from the Trinity aquifer. EP has been a controversial topic among San Marcos City Council and the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer conservation district.
EP is a Houston-based private water firm that planned to originally pump more than 5 million gallons of water a day earlier this year to meet a contract with Austin and hill country areas.
Barton Springs Edwards Conservation District Director for precinct 2 Blayne Stansberry said the lower amount will “definitely have less impact” on adjacent wells, such as the Edwards Aquifer Authority.
Stansberry said BSEACD is “confused” about why EP requested to pump 100 acres rather than the 5,600 EP was contracted to pump, saying the amount in insufficient compared to what EP originally contracted.
Stansberry said BSEACD will not target any restrictions or try to stop EP, who has a valid permit in place unless evidence shows the amount being pumped would impact other water wells.
“We definitely want to make sure that the shared resource of water is available for everyone,” Stansberry said. “If there is a reason to believe there are going to be unreasonable impacts to adjacent wells during the application process then there may be a permit issued for a reduced amount, but that would be only done with scientific evidence there is going to be an impact.”
Stansberry said the State of Texas has “numerous” groundwater districts in Texas.The area where the Trinity aquifer is located is near the Hays Trinity groundwater conservation district, BSEACD and the Edwards Aquifer authority (EAA), which Stansberry explains makes it vulnerable to the “rule of capture.” Meaning, because no district regulates the area, a company, such as EP, is legally able to pump as much water as they please without facing penalties.
“All of their boundaries touch, so when you look at a map, it looks like EP is in the district of the Edwards Aquifer Authority,” Stansberry said. “However, by statute, the EAA is limited only to the regulation of the Edwards aquifer. EP found if they drill through the Edwards, the trinity under the Edwards was unregulated. In 3-D, you can see it quite clearly that it’s in a white zone. But in 2-D, on a map, it looks like it’s covered.”
The temporary permit has been approved and EP has until March to complete its application for their regular permit. EP’s application for a regular permit could be presented to the board of approval as early as May or June of next year.
If all goes well for EP, the regular permit will be issued but if it’s a contested case, it could be tied up for an unknown amount of time depending on who is protesting it.
But in the meantime, EP can continue to operate under the temporary permit.