Those of you who have been keeping up with efforts to put restrictions on Electro Purification’s pumping of water from an unregulated area of the Trinity Aquifer in Hays County will be pleased to know that a proposed legislative solution took an important step forward this week when SB1440 was voted out of committee. If passed, the bill would give authority to regulate the area to the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. Meanwhile, a companion bill in the House, HB3405, is on the calendar for Thursday.
As is often the case in the legislature, SB1440 didn’t move forward until some amended language was added, and this was done to address concerns of some Senators regarding the effects of existing contracts. Essentially, the amendment allows EP – which has contracted to sell the water to Goforth Special Utility District, the City of Buda, and a planned subdivision near Mountain City – to continue drilling test wells and developing a mitigation plan while the District is reviewing its permit application. The interim authorization under a temporary permit will allow the District to apply existing rules and standards in the application review and provide opportunity for public input and for protest by affected parties.
Some people have pointed out that EP could choose to pump water during the interim period. While this is technically true, it is mostly a moot point, since EP has no pipeline in place to transport the water anywhere. Moreover, this interim period will likely be a short one, as the District has made it clear that they intend to review EP’s permit application in a timely manner.
When it comes to complex legislation such as this, it’s nearly impossible for all parties to be completely satisfied, so some may quibble with the amended language in the bill. But the important thing is that EP still has to go through the permitting process, and getting this legislation past this most recent step is important, as it means we are that much closer to making sure this project is regulated.