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2014-04-17

BCRAGD looking at more notices of violation

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

The Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District (BCRAGD) is looking at issuing more notices of violation, according to action taken during the district's quarterly board meeting held Thursday, April 10.
General Manager Dave Mauk outlined alleged violations on two wells drilled in Bandera County.
In the first case, violation notices were sent on Jan. 17 to Nick Marsh and Ray Turner for "failure to notify the land owner of undesirable constituents and violation submission of an inaccurate state well report."
As of April 26, Mauk said, the Texas Department of Licensing and Registration had not yet received an amended well report.
In the second case, a driller allegedly walked off of a job and another driller agreed to take over the job. Subsequently, various violations were not taken care of.
According to Mauk's report, the well was left in an open hole state for approximately two months without grout or cement to the surface, the well was not properly capped for approximately five months, and the marker for the well was left sitting on top of PVC pipe for approximately three months.
The original licensed driller for the well was Bobby Roberts. The replacement licensed driller was Ray Turner. The water well company was Tejas Water Well, owned by Nick Marsh.
A driller's charge of not being paid, confusion about whether or not the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) had approved a certain type of pump or when they had approved it, locked gates, and conflicts over who was responsible for what part of the job definitely muddied the waters-pun intended.
Repeated visits to the well site by BCRAGD staff showed no progress in dealing with the violations, Mauk said.
Ray Turner addressed the board by saying, "The ... well was a mess and I kinda got caught up in the middle of it...I was trying to help a guy out. He was using my license."
Turner said he should have paid more attention to the situation and concluded, "There will be no more using my license by Tejas."
Regarding the charges that he failed to respond to numerous notifications of violations at the well site, Turner said, "I should have come in to y'all at the start and let y'all deal with it."
When board member Karen Ripley asked him for clarification about how problems arise when well drilling companies use a driller's license while not having a license of their own, Turner replied, "I've never been in this kind of situation before."
After concluding his report, following Turner's responses, Mauk said that because of all the people involved in the two cases, he wanted to discuss the situation in more detail with the district's attorney, Richard Mosty. He recommended that the board postpone taking action on any of the violations until he had had a chance to meet with Mosty.
The board agreed and proposed calling a special meeting within 30 days to decide how to deal with the violations.
Commenting on the lengthy report that detailed all the many inspections done on the wells by BCRAGD staffers over a period of months, board member Sid Gibson said, "It seems like we've got more hours in this well than [the drillers and well drilling companies] do."
Board member, and also a licensed well driller, Jerry Sides added, "It took five months to do what should have taken a day."
Gibson added that the district "should be able to pull the permit when a licensed driller walks off the job."
Ernie DeWinne said that legislation is being proposed that would require well drilling companies to be licensed as well as the driller. "This is the same problem we've had before."
DeWinne was apparently referring to fines the district levied against licensed drillers, unlicensed well drillers and pump installers associated with Robert Rae Powell's Pipe Creek Water Well in 2012. Six men, including Powell, were charged with allegedly violating numerous BCRAGD rules governing water well drilling and water quality issues in Bandera County.
Only Powell's fines, totalling $9,500 for 16 violations, remain outstanding and his case is still in litigation.