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No vote yet at BCRAGD re Flying L variance

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Although there was an agenda item referencing Flying L Guest Ranch Ltd's request for a variance on their pumping permit, the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District's board took no action last week.
The agenda item referred to a resolution of uncontested issues between the two entities regarding the variance request. During a hearing held June 25, FLGR and BCRAGD's attorneys devised a proposed list of items of agreement which were to be finalized (among the attorneys) prior to the groundwater district's regular quarterly meeting held Thursday, June 9.
Since neither the general manager's attorney, Greg Ellis, nor the board's attorney, Richard Mosty, were able to attend last week's meeting, GM David Mauk recommended that the board take no action on the item.
FLGR's attorney, Rene Ruiz, claimed he had emailed an agreement on those issues to the general manager that had been approved by the board's attorney. Mauk maintained he got an email after 10 pm the night before the quarterly meeting and had not heard from either Ellis or Mosty. With that, Ruiz stormed out of the meeting room mumbling imprecations.
At the previous hearing, the two groups had discussed possible agreement on several issues, including that the correct name on the permit should be Flying L Guest Ranch Ltd. and that the current pumping permit is for 301.37 acre feet of water. Under debate at that hearing was how many acres of land FLGR owns which entitles it to a permit, and the use of the water the ranch pumps.
At that hearing, Ruiz argued that as long as the ranch was not wasting water, it shouldn't matter what use it was being put to. The district board expressed concerns about permitting usages that would allow the ranch to retail water.
Also disputed were the total number of acres FLGR owns upon which the permit could be based. Ruiz argued that an additional 100 acres purchased by the ranch for subdivision development should be included. He also argued that acreage in the existing Flying L Ranch subdivision, which gets its water from a public utility district with its own permit, should also be included in the current recommended state water permitting formula of one acre of land equals one acre foot of water.
FLGR is requesting a variance on their 301.37 acre feet per year pumping permit to 2,096 acre feet per year, which is 10 times the amount of water pumped by the entire city of Bandera per year. The issue has been in contention since early 2014.
GM's report
In other business, the general manager presented his report which included an unsafe bacteria level at the Medina Lake County Park near the boat ramp tested on July 1. On that date the water tested for E coli at 990 cfu. However, when retested on July 6, the numbers had dropped to 30 cfu. TCEQ has set the standard for E coli levels at 399 colony forming units per 100 ml of water. If the count is over that amount, no primary contact recreation should take place in that area of the river.
Sometimes E coli numbers spike following floods as rising waters wash accumulated fecal and other organic matter into the streams.
• Mauk was happy to report that for the first time in a long time there are no drought restrictions in effect in the county. The US Drought Monitor map for Texas shows a semi-circle of abnormally dry conditions persisting in central Texas north of Gillespie County and a smaller patch in the far northwest Panhandle area.
• In regulatory compliance, the district conducted 104 well inspections during the third quarter and conducted eight investigations.
• Mauk reported an increase in aquifer levels across the county. The Middle Trinity Aquifer which had a 12.9 ft average decline from July 2010 to May 2015 had an 18.7 ft gain from January 2015 to May 2015. The Lower Trinity had an average decline of 15.4 ft from July 2010 to May 2015 and a 4.3 ft average gain from January through May. The Edwards Group of Aquifers as measured in the district's Edwards Monitor Well showed a three foot increase.
• There were 26 registered wells drilled in the district in the third quarter, compared to 20 wells during the same time period in 2014. There were no permitted wells drilled. The district handled two nuisance complaints and issued one notice of violation. One well was plugged and two were logged.
Well plugging
The district continues its series of workshops on water issues by covering well plugging in August. Guests will learn the importance of identifying abandoned wells and participation in a well plugging program. The session will meet at BCRAGD offices on Tuesday, August 11, from 6-7:30 pm with no fee.