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Electro Purification reacts to LBG-Guyton report

Thursday, April 2, 2015 by Kim Hilsenbeck

Following last week’s findings of a hydrological evaluation by LBG-Guyton Associates on the effects of the Electro Purification water project on area wells, this week the water development company went on the defense.

At Tuesday’s Hays County Commissioners Court, Electro Purification representatives provided a response to the LBG-Guyton report.

That study, conducted on behalf of and paid for by Bill Johnson and Halifax Ranch, concluded that if the water project continues, local property owners would see a negative impact on their residential wells. The report predicted a drawdown of up to 500 feet as a worst-case scenario.

Johnson would potentially see a water pipeline installed on his property using the power of eminent domain.

Last week, Electro Purification released its own findings of a yearlong hydrogeological study of existing technical data along with data from seven test wells. Hydrogeologist Kaveh Khorzad, president of Wet Rock Groundwater Services, submitted the Electro Purification report.

The two reports conflict on the impact of drawing up to 5.3 million gallons a day from the Trinity Aquifer to existing wells. The Electro Purification report indicated little harm to local wells. That report also put forward the notion that the Middle Trinity Aquifer has more water in it than previously thought.

An Electro Purification representative clarified during the presentation that the company could pump a maximum of 5.3 million gallons daily, but it would not realize the full amount until 2036.

“The model presented to you last week was put together in a matter of months and had inaccurate data, no stakeholders and zero recharge,” Khorzad told commissioners. “The model presented was simply a drawdown equation called Theis (pronounce tice) equation.”

A written statement from Electro Purification disputes the use of that equation, as the Trinity Aquifer is not uniform in character. That model also assumes there would be no recharge of the aquifer through rainfall, according to Electro Purification.

Khorzad spent more than a year working with Electro Purification. He reviewed existing data about the Trinity and Edwards Aquifers, and most recently, test data from seven Electro Purification wells.

Judge Bert Cobb asked why he should believe anything Electro Purification says when he has heard so many conflicting views.

“We had a courtroom full of hydrologists last week that would swear on their reports,” Cobb said.

“This (LBG-Guyton) report is mostly just regurgitation of what we’ve done,” Khorzad replied. “We did a pump test, and all of this was an actual measure of information. Our plan is to work with groundwater districts to measure drawdown.”

Cobb also addressed the rumors that Wimberley residents think he does not want them to have water.

“Are you people crazy?” Cobb asked the audience. “I’ve spent six years to try and get you people water. The problem with your project is sustainability. Until we get realistic about what’s available, who gets it, who controls it and what it costs, we can’t move ahead.”

Commissioner Will Conley expressed his apprehension with the data, because it can change over time.

“Based off the current data that we have is what is proposed to being pumped is a high percentage of what we have available today,” Conley said. “You can understand our concern and hesitation about this project, and what it can mean long-term. We don’t have to do this and go through high risks simply for benefits for cheap water supply.”

Members of the public also addressed commissioners in favor of or in opposition to the Electro Purification well project moving forward.

Dripping Springs resident Ashley Whittenberger questioned why there was not a meeting of only scientists to discuss the data. She also said longtime Hays County residents do not have more water and property rights than those who got here later.

“Unlike some of the Odells, I haven’t been here since the 1800s,” she said. “But I don’t recall any part of the Texas Constitution that says people who have been here longer have more rights than anyone who got here later.”

Keely Odell of Dripping Springs expressed her concern with the criticism of her and her family on social media.

“I believe all these things should be based on facts,” she said. “I appreciate all of the work Electro Purification has done and the data they’ve provided. I don’t believe the Odells have done anything illegal. The disrespect (on social media) is not appreciated. To show respect will get you further; sugar will get you further than lemons in life.”

Ashley Sava contributed to this report. 


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