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2012-01-26

BCRAGD files complaints with TCEQ against Flying L Ranch LTD

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

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

First complaint

The first complaint, addressed to TCEQ's Richard Garcia in San Antonio, charges the ranch with using an irrigation well as a source for the ranch's water park.

The letter states, in part: "Our understanding is that the water park was originally utilizing water from the Flying L PUD (Public Utility District), a neighboring TCEQ approved public water supply. Now, we have been informed the water park is not being serviced by the PUD's public water supply. The water park is utilizing raw groundwater from the irrigation wells for the pools."

The letter goes on to say that using water that is not from an approved public water supply for a commercial operation "seems to be a clear violation of TCEQ rules."

BCRAGD also expresses a concern for what may be a "potential health threat."

Second complaint

The second complaint addressed to TCEQ's Ramiro Garcia in Austin, asks the state agency to look at possible violations of several sections of Chapter 11 of the State Water Code while watering their golf course.

The complaint declares 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 letter says, this was done without obtaining the necessary permits as required by the State Water Code.

TCEQ's response

According to TCEQ, both complaints have been investigated and are closed as far as that agency is concerned.

Regarding the first complaint, using irrigation well water in the water park, TCEQ has tossed the ball to its own Public Drinking Water Division and the State Department of Health, which regulates water parks and public pools. The report notes that if there are any "cross connection
concerns with the irrigation wells and the PUD's system" it will be the responsibility of the PUD to address.

The second complaint has also been closed with the c
caveat: "Investigation data not available until approved by management."

According to BCRAGD General Manager David Mauk, that probably means the report is being further studied by upper levels at TCEQ.

"This is a very complex issue," said Mauk. "We have local rules and the TCEQ has statewide rules. The ranch has to abide by both sets of rules. It is further complicated in that we are dealing with commercial use, public use and domestic use issues as well as the history of the ranch."