The Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund website is under construction and we are passing the following along to you at their request. 
The newly-formed Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund (SAWDF) wants to set the record straight on a misleading front page article in this week's Bastrop Advertiser. SAWDF has also challenged the Advertiser to correct the story.
The article was based on SAWDF's recent press release announcing its formation and fundraising campaign (see press release below). However, the article erroneously described SAWDF's plans to include intervening in the pending City of Bastrop/XS Ranch permit application at Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District (Lost Pines).
Contrary to statements in the article, SAWDF and its organizers have absolutely no involvement in the City of Bastrop's dispute with landowners over the City's plan to pump 2,000 acre-feet of groundwater per year for local use. We regret any confusion the article caused.
While SAWDF will monitor local use permits, groundwater export projects will receive the most attention. These projects pose the bigger threat, aquifer-wide, because they require heavy pumping of the aquifer and permanently remove huge amounts of water every year. 

SAWDF'S mission is to educate and assist those who want to protect their local water supply and preserve the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, including the mighty Simsboro aquifer that runs under several Central Texas counties. Our efforts will include assisting and supporting landowners who want to protect their property rights to the groundwater beneath their land for the benefit of all of us.
The article should have focused on our immediate efforts to raise funds to assist what could be a long battle involving very important legal issues. SAWDF will provide financial assistance to local landowners who are trying to become parties to the End Op contested case hearing. They are appealing Lost Pines' denial of their right to challenge the permit, with a hearing in Bastrop District Court expected this fall.
End Op is seeking a permit to export 46,000 acre-feet of groundwater (almost 15 billion gallons) per year from Lee and Bastrop counties. Because the impacts of massive pumping in the Simsboro extend beyond individual county lines, SAWDF's outreach will also extend beyond the End Op permit to similar projects in Burleson, Milam and other counties over the Carrizo-Wilcox.  


New Group Launches Fight To Protect
Local Groundwater and Aquifers

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.

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.        

Left to right:  Eric Allmon, Michele Gangnes, Andrew Meyer, Darwyn Hanna, Ernest Bogart, Bette (Betz) Brown, Don Grissom, Steve Box.

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 and
Bogart at 512-281-3326 or

or click on this link
  Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund


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Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District
Aqua's Settlement with End Op
Subsequent to the ALJ's decision on party status, AQUA announced a partial settlement with End Op that would establish a mitigation fund for Aqua of up to $15 million over 20 years. In exchange, AQUA agreed to limited arguments and limited cross-examination, including refraining from arguing on behalf of any landowner other than AQUA at the hearing.

The settlement also resulted in a reduction of End Op's request for a permit to 46,000 AFY instead of 56,000 AFY, and a reduction of pumping in Bastrop County. The AQUA mitigation fund is controlled by AQUA and may be used at AQUA's sole discretion, with no showing of fault by End Op. 

AQUA and End Op also agreed that End Op would set up a mitigation fund of up to $3.75 million to be held by a third-party trustee to pay claims of landowners who are not Aqua customers, as long as they have wells either in the Simsboro Aquifer or within one mile of an End Op well. No details of the landowner fund have been offered by either AQUA or End Op, including whether these landowners will have the burden of proving End Op caused damage to their wells.  Click here for a link to AQUA's frequently asked questions. 

The ALJ's decision recommended the landowner mitigation fund be included in any End Op permit --- clearly, End Op, AQUA and the ALJ have attempted to settle issues affecting private landowners and their property rights, while denying the landowners themselves their rights of due process and equal protection.

Administrative Law Judge's Order - the details

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SOAH Headquarter


The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) ruled that a landowner must "demonstrate ownership of wells or have plans to exercise their groundwater rights," AND "must establish a specific injury to a personal justiciable interest" to have standing in a contested case hearing before a groundwater conservation district.


"[T]o prevail," the ALJ ruled, "the Landowners must show a concrete, particularized injury-in-fact that must be more than speculative, and there must be some evidence that would tend to show that the legally protected interests will be affected by the action." Further, the particularized interest must be "distinct from that sustained by the public at large."


The action of this administrative order, now adopted by the Lost Pines GCD's Board of Directors, is to establish the conditions for party status in contested case hearings held before groundwater conservation districts, and especially hearings held before the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH), These rulings severely limit the ability of landowners to protect the property rights regarding their groundwater in place by severely limiting their ability to arguing the merits of their case, especially if they do not already own a well. 


Click here for link to ALJ's Order and other briefing documents 

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