Hays County well owners fight aquifer drilling

DRIFTWOOD, Texas (KXAN) —  As Central Texas continues to grow, so does the need for water. But neighbors in Hays County are rallying to protect an aquifer they believe is in danger.

Last week the City of Buda signed an agreement with a Houston-based company called Electro Purification to pump a million gallons of water from the Trinity Aquifer every day.

“Going dry. It’s just as cut and dry as that,” said Jenny Kyle, worrying the drilling will leaver her well dry. “We lose our water, we have nothing.”

She has lived in the Rolling Oaks Neighborhood for 28 years, which is close to where the drilling is expected to take place. Her family depends on their own private water well.

“Everybody sits on top of these aquifers. It’s everybody’s water, but it’s not fair to come and put other people out just so you can benefit from tax revenue and more people moving to your city,” said Kyle. “We had a subdivision a couple years ago drill a couple big wells and that put us in sour water. And this summer…our well ran almost completely dry to when we took showers you could see soot in our water at the base of your shower.”

Neighbors showed up in big numbers Tuesday to Hays County Commissioner’s court to voice their concerns. The court set an agenda for a larger committee meeting with the subdivisions involved and to discuss the Electro Purification project and the area’s needs.

“My concern is long term health of the Hays Trinity Aquifer, which provides water supplies for predominately all of Western Hays County,” said County Commissioner Will Conley. “It is essential to all environmental assets and quality of life in Hays County along with our economy as well.

“This isn’t a grow or not grow scenario, this is just growing but doing so in a responsible way and a better way.”

He said this fight goes straight to the Capitol because parts of the Trinity Aquifer in Hays County is not protected. State lawmakers have the power to change who governs the aquifer.

One of the ideas is annexing the “limbo” portion of the Trinity Aquifer to the Hays Trinity Groundwater District. Conley said he wants to see Electro Purification follow rules other companies after to follow.

“We are looking for a way to protect the unprotected, basically,”said Linda Kaye Rogers, president of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District. “All of the private well owners…probably have the great potential of being at risk and having a negative impact on their wells due to heavy pumping by Electro Purification.”

Rogers believes there needs to be more research done in the area to really understand the geography and the potential harm of over-pumping. But her groundwater district can’t necessarily do anything because the Trinity Aquifer is unregulated and not part of their district.

“There’s a two-prong approach,” Rogers added. “A lot of legislation could annex this area into the Hays Trinity, or the citizens themselves can petition to be annexed.” There is already a petition in the works.

Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) said he knows this session is important and he’s been in talks with residents, the county, Electro Purification, and other parties tied to the water concerns. He told KXAN he is hosting a town hall meeting in two weeks, and that the city manager of Buda and leaders from a residential development plan to attend. Isaac said he has invited Electro Purification, but has not heard back.

Town hall meeting with Rep. Jason Isaac
Tuesday, Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m.
Johnson Hall at the Wimberley Community

Isaac said there needs to be a statewide approach as to how lawmakers protect aquifers across Texas and to fix water policies. He said he hopes to present some ideas as legislation at February’s town hall meeting.

KXAN reached out to Electro Purification, but didn’t hear back on Tuesday.

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