Protecting the Colorado River Basin, Aquifers, and Bays of the Texas Gulf Coast
ALERT: Get ready for a Double-Header!
LCRA Rehearing April 4th, 2 pm
City of Bastrop Hearing April 4th, 6 pm
We are thankful for your
unwavering support for these many years.


The continuation of the LCRA's hearing on its application for a groundwater permit has been scheduled, but the public notice has not been published yet. Rather than wait until the formal notice, here is where the in-person only hearings will beheld:
Bastrop Convention Center
1408 Chestnut Street
Bastrop, Texas 78602
LCRA Rehearing: 2:00 p.m., April 4, 2022
City of Bastrop Hearing: 6:00 p.m., April 4, 2022

The LCRA requested a rehearing on its application to produce 25,000 acre-feet per year of groundwater from the Griffith League Ranch in Bastrop County, Texas. Having agreed to reconsider their decision, Lost Pines Board gave the parties until March 10, 2022, to file briefs that respond to LCRA’s nine (9) complaints and gave LCRA until March 25th to file its reply brief. Click here for LCRA's reply brief. Environmental Stewardship's reply brief, along with the other briefs, can be found in the "Read More" link below.

Will this permit be DENIED!

The LCRA has doubled-down by threatening the Board. This Board does not take kindly to being bullied. Greg Ellis, counsel for the Board on the LCRA matter, warned as he announced the agreement to a rehearing, that the result of the rehearing could take any form, including denial of the permit. Applicant take heed!

LCRA has been belligerent toward the Lost Pines Board since the beginning. In its latest brief the LCRA has challenge the Board's authority in the broadest terms possible. When the General Manager and the other parties challenged LCRA for not identify the specific points of error that LCRA claimed, LCRA replied saying "the error is global, applies to all challenges, and does not pertain to any particular finding of fact or conclusion of law". LCRA went further to say that "the Board's Final Order and all findings and conclusions are invalid". (LCRA Reply draft page 3, section II, emphasis added). Then, the LCRA started piling on -- a football term -- as it followed with three pages of new case law that none of the parties will have an opportunity to rebut.

With respect to Environmental Stewardship's surface water issues, LCRA states that "the [Lost Pines'] authority does not extend to require LCRA as a permit condition to implement monitoring of surface water impacts from district-wide groundwater pumping" (page 21, Section VII). "The only effect of the provision is to provide the District with more data to inform future management decisions whether or not related whatsoever to LCRA's permits." And, LCRA goes on to say "but its inclusion also imposes an unconstitutional condition" ... "by coercing a permittee to spend money to acquire and then relinquish property interests for public benefit ...". This "would require LCRA to incur substantial costs to implement a program, such as costs of designing, acquiring, installing, and maintaining surface water monitoring equipment and acquisition of land rights to install and access the equipment." (page 24, paragraphs 1 and 2).

So what does LCRA really fear might happen as a result of a surface water monitoring agreement? LCRA fears that, having developed field data, it will be required to disclose the field data as described in Special Condition (3) which "requires LCRA to submit the data collected for analysis at the time of permit renewal and subjects LCRA to potential revisions to the permit based on such analysis." LCRA argues that "This condition is unique to LCRA's permit ... and hence "more restrictive" [than the other permits]." (page 17, paragraph 1). As a witness to the Forestar (now Gatehouse) and End Op (now Recharge Water) permits, you will agree this is not unique except in LCRA's convoluted terms and conditions.

Lost Pines' Board will consider, and possibly take action on the LCRA permit application at the April 4th hearing. The Board can issue a final decision at the hearing or at a later date. Once a decision is made, LCRA will then be free, at its own discretion, to appeal the District’s decision and seek judicial relief in Bastrop District Court.

If the LCRA is going to appeal the decision, which seems very likely given the LCRA's closing sentence: "Should [the Board] fail to correct these errors, LCRA will seek the reviewing court's determination that the Board's Final Decision is contrary to law, arbitrary and capricious, not supported by substantial evidence, and that the Board's decision should be reversed by the court" (page 27, last sentence), it is the opinion of this writer that the LCRA has set itself up for the Lost Pines Board, having had its authority challenged globally, to denied the permit for any number of credible reasons. This is solely the opinion of this author.

----------------- READ MORE HERE--------------------

Status of Freshwater Inflows into the Highland Lakes
(2021- February, 2022)
Focus on the PURPLE bars!
Do you see anything that concerns you?
Freshwater inflows into the Highland Lakes
2022 inflows to the Highland Lakes are in PURPLE above

2021 inflows to the Highland Lakes are in PURPLE below.
Why this is important to the lower Colorado River basin

The instream environmental flows that are released to the lower basin, or passed-through Lake Travis, are regulated by the LCRA based on the amount of inflows received into the Highland Lakes. Without adequate inflows, release of water down-stream for interuptable (irrigation) or environmental flow purposes are restricted. Without these releases, minimum flows in the lower basin are dependent on return flows from the city of Austin and Travis county wastewater treatment plants, and groundwater inflows from the aquifers.

All too often we are told that during times of drought the LCRA will not let the river go dry and will simply release water from the Highland Lakes. However, this is not true for two reasons. First, since the last drought of record caught the LCRA off guard by starting right after they had released a huge volume of water for irrigation into the lower basin, the rules for maintaining the water levels in the highland lakes have changed. Lead by the Central Texas Water Coalition, who keeps a watchful eye on the water levels in the Highland Lakes, and other stakeholders like the City of Austin, and environmental interests like Texas Parks and Wildlife and Environmental Stewardship, the LCRA's Highland Lakes Management Plan was updated to put better planning safeguards in place so that the lake levels are better managed. Second, as with the recent drought-of-record, the LCRA can, and has, requested that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) provide an emergency exemption to the LCRA, thereby releasing them from the obligation to release water into the lower basin for environmental and irrigation purposes.

More on this topic as we progress into the coming dry months

--------------------------------- GET MORE DETAILS HERE -----------------------------

Request for Donations

Throughout the year we request that you keep Environmental Stewardship -- and the work we do to protect your surface water, groundwater, coastal bays and estuaries -- in mind as you make your gift plans.  Currently our work is limited by the amount of individual and business donations we receive each year, so your generous donation throughout the year will help us maximize the work we will be able to do in 2022. 
On behalf our Board of Directors and me, 
thank you for your help and participation.

Steve Box
Board President and Executive Director
Environmental Stewardship
Steve Box | Executive Director | Environmental Stewardship | A WATERKEEPER ALLIANCE Affiliate
Our Mission

Environmental Stewardship is a charitable nonprofit organization whose purposes are to meet current and future needs of the environment and its inhabitants by protecting and enhancing the earth's natural resources; to restore and sustain ecological services using scientific information; and to encourage public stewardship through environmental education and outreach.  

We are a Texas nonprofit 501(c) (3) charitable organization headquartered in Bastrop, Texas.