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2012-03-15

BCRAGD files complaints with TCEQ against Flying L Ranch LTD

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

On Feb. 17, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) posted the investigative background on one of two complaints filed against the Flying L Guest Ranch in Bandera.

According to the post, TCEQ cited the hotel, convention center and golf course complex on 13 different water usage issues.

The first citation is for violation of Texas Water Code (TWC) Chapter 11.081, regarding the unlawful use of state water.

The next 10 citations are for violations of TWC Chapter 11.042, which has to do with the rules regarding delivering water down banks and beds, and violations of the Texas Administrative Code (TAC) 30 Chapter 296.16, which deals with environmental issues.

The final two citations are for violations of TWC Chapter 11.121, regarding the need for a state permit to divert and impound state water, specifically two channel impoundments capable of impounding state water, and violations of TAC 30 Chapter 297.11, the general authorization to divert, store or use state water.

According to a spokesman for the TCEQ, the ranch has been sent a Notice of Violation from the South Texas Watermaster, Esteban Ramos.

"The ranch will have to make some changes," said the spokesman. "If they comply, they may be OK and nothing further will be done. If they do not meet the criteria, there may be penalities."

Flying L Ranch has until April 17 to respond.

The Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District (BCRAGD) filed two complaints with the TCEQ against the Flying L Ranch Ltd. in early December. The first charged the guest ranch and convention complex with possible usage violations in their water park and the second charged the ranch with waste of groundwater on the golf course.

The complaint dealing with the water park has been transferred by TCEQ to the Public Drinking Water Division and the State Department of Health, which regulates water parks and public pools.

The second complaint asked TCEQ to look at possible violations of several sections of Chapter 11 of the State Water Code while watering their golf course.

BCGRAD's complaint alleged that Flying L Ranch Ltd. uses "a series of natural water courses that were either existing in their current form or enlarged and modified by the Ranch to facilitate its irrigation system for their golf course."

The complaint alleges the ranch constructed reservoirs in "natural water courses" in order to use the water collected for commercial purposes and failed to obtain the necessary permits prior to the construction.

The letter also charges Flying L Ranch Ltd. with "pumping groundwater from their irrigation wells into the water courses, comingling groundwater with state controlled surface water."
Again, the complaint charges, this was done without obtaining the necessary permits as required by the State Water Code.

The Courier had reported in January that, according to TCEQ, both complaints had been investigated and closed. We regret any confusion caused by our misunderstanding of the procedures of the TCEQ.