Protecting the Colorado River Basin, Aquifers, and Bays of the Texas Gulf Coast
Meeting Alert: Lost Pines GCD Board Meeting Nov. 8th, 6 p.m.
LCRA Permit and Desired Future Conditions Decision


The Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District Board will be holding a special called meeting to discuss and vote on desired future conditions to be adopted for the 2022-2027 planning cycle (Agenda Item 5). They will also provide more information on the LCRA groundwater permit for 8,000 AFY that was approved last month (Agenda Item 4).

The meeting will be a hybrid in-person and virtual meeting so there are two ways to attend. We hope you will attend the meeting and show support for the Desired Future Conditions that our WaterDefender coalition is recommending (see below for more information). And don't forget to get a special handout to show the Board what you want them to do. Click here for the agenda.

Lost Pines GCD Special Called Board Meeting
Monday, November 8th, 6:00 p.m.
Bastrop Convention Center
1408 Chestnut Street
Bastrop, TX 78602

Zoom Meeting Link:
Meeting ID: 826 1708 0590
Passcode: 154467
Telephone conference:
Phone number: Dial +1 346 248 7799
Meeting ID: 826 1708 0590 #
Passcode: 154467

What you can do to help!
  1. Attend the meeting in person or via Zoom. (Detailed instruction are in the agenda}.
  2. Email Board President Sheril Smith and board members and give them your reasons for supporting our request that they approve no more than 30,303 AFY of pumping in the Simsboro formation with a predicted average drawdown in water level of 183 feet.
  3. Put "183 or less" in the subject line.

PROPOSED Desired Future Conditions (DFCs).

The board for the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District has a difficult decision to make regarding Desired Future Conditions (DFCs) for the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer through 2070.  They will be considering, both, the total amount of groundwater pumping they envision for the Simsboro formation and the average drawdown in water level that is predicted to result from that pumping.
Figure 1.

As we mentioned in our last update, there was a critical discussions on setting desired future conditions (DFCs) for the Simsboro aquifer at the October 20, meetings.  In that meeting Environmental Stewardship and Simsboro Aquifer Defense Fund provided a conservation option for consideration at the upcoming November 8th meeting. The graphic above describes what the WaterDefenders Coalition is requesting (on the left) versus what the General Manager is proposing (on the right).

For reasons detailed below, WaterDefenders are requesting that the Lost Pines board vote to approve no more than 30,303 acre-feet per year [AFY] of pumping in the Simsboro formation with a predicted average drawdown in water level of 183 feet. [see Figure 1 above]

At the September 2021 meeting, the Lost Pines board agreed to proposed average drawdown in water levels for other formations of the Carrizo-Wilcox and in the Sparta and Queen City aquifers. At the same meeting, in response to research presented by WaterDefenders, the Lost Pines board directed staff to research reductions in predicted average drawdown in the water level for the Simsboro formation.

The Simsboro formation, part of the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer, is important for many reasons; the Simsboro has high water quality; it is the focus of several large permits by water marketing companies hoping to sell water to other parts of Texas; and it has a major impact on the Colorado River and adjoining formations, the Calvert Bluff and the Hooper.

Currently, the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer contributes approximately 21,000 AFY of water to the Colorado River. [Note: Lake Bastrop’s capacity is 15,000 acre-feet. The Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer contributes more than the equivalent of Lake Bastrop to the Colorado River each year!]. Research by Environmental Stewardship shows that when you increase groundwater pumping in the Carrizo-Wilcox, approximately 63% of the water collected is redirected away from the Colorado River, and other surface waters, toward the water pumps.

The current Desired Future Conditions, set in 2017, envision an increase in pumping up to approximately 30,303 AFY from the Simsboro formation by 2070. This amount of pumping will reduce the inflows to the Colorado river, down from 21,000 AFY to approximately 8,500 AFY. Environmental Stewardship believes this is the bare minimum needed for the Colorado River to survive another drought-of-record like we saw in 2011.

An Economic Impact Study by SAWDF estimates that 30,303 AFY of pumping will damage more than 250 domestic/livestock wells in Lee and Bastrop counties, including wells in the Calvert Bluff or Hooper formations. The economic impact for landowners with domestic/livestock wells, including mitigation costs, lost property value and lost income is conservatively estimated at $100,304,878. [see Figure 2]

In October 2021, Lost Pines' staff introduced a new pumping file [S-15] for the Groundwater Availability Model [GAM] with proposed pumping of 82,839 AFY in the Simsboro formation. This pumping results in a predicted average drawdown of 239 feet by 2070. This is an increase of 2.7 times the pumping envisioned in the 2017 Desired Future Conditions.

Environmental Stewardship estimates that the Colorado River will become a “losing stream” when pumping in the Simsboro formation exceeds approximately 78,000 AFY; a conservation red-line. The pumping proposed by staff exceeds this threshold and robs the river of another 1,000 AFY. In a future severe drought, there would be little or no groundwater flowing to the river to retain its ecological resilience in support of fish, wildlife, irrigation, or recreation.

SAWDF reviewed the proposed pumping and updated the Economic Impact Study. SAWDF estimates the increased pumping will damage more than 500 domestic/livestock wells in Lee and Bastrop counties. The economic impact for landowners with domestic/livestock wells, including mitigation costs, lost property value and lost income is conservatively estimated at $155,526,151. [see Figure 2 below]

Due to the unreasonable impacts on surface waters, especially the Colorado River, property rights in groundwater, and damage to domestic/livestock wells, requests that the Lost Pines board vote to approve no more than 30,303 AFY of pumping in the Simsboro formation with a predicted average drawdown in water level of 183 feet.
Figure 2. Excerpt from SAWDF Economic Impact Study

Click here for printable copy of above
LCRA Groundwater Permit

On October 12th, the Lost Pines Board moved to grant an 8,000 acre-foot per year (AFY) permit to LCRA.  This is a hair-cut, as we call it, from the 25,000 AFY amount of pumping requested by LCRA.  So this is a big victory for the conservation of our groundwater resources.   

And so far, our surface water win, that was in the proposal for decision handed down to Lost Pines by the Administrative Law Judges, still stands. This requires LCRA to monitor surface water-ground water interactions and recommends that Lost Pines GCD include the details of such a monitoring program in its management plan.  

Also, as mentioned above, the Board will likely be provided with a formal, written operating permit for review and approval at the November 8th meeting.
See above for details on how to attend the meeting.

Request for Donations

Finally, as we near the end of the year, we are requesting that you keep Environmental Stewardship, and the work we do to protect your surface water, groundwater and coastal bays and estuaries, in mind as you make your year-end gift plans.  Currently our work is limited by the amount of individual and business donations we receive each year, so your generous donation by year-end 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.