Settlement Agreement Finalized between Needmore, BSEACD, and TESPA

The contested Needmore permitted well location, monitoring network, and surrounding wells.

Since 2015, Needmore, LLC’s large-volume permit has been a topic of heated debate.  The agricultural, irrigation, and wildlife use permit was formally contested by TESPA with support from WVWA and many others.

The permit has been under litigation until this week (June 9) when all parties reached a settlement agreement.  The settlement agreement secures substantial protections against change of use by the current owner or successors.  The settlement agreement and the index well that sets pumpage restrictions for the Needmore permit are positive steps to protecting surrounding well owners.

Needmore Index well water level sets pumpage curtailment.

Settlement Agreement Details are summarized in TESPA’s Press Release:

June 9, 2021

TESPA Enters Settlement with Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District Over Needmore Water LLC Permit

The Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association (TESPA) today announced a litigation agreement has been reached from the organization’s challenge to a decision made by the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) to issue a groundwater permit to Needmore Water, LLC in Hays County near Wimberley, Texas.

TESPA has been opposing this permit since its application in 2015. In 2019, the BSEACD board voted to grant the permit application as requested by Needmore for use for agricultural irrigation and wildlife.

In February 2020, TESPA attorney Jeff Mundy, filed suit in Travis County state district court challenging the BSEACD decision to grant the permit. This legal action followed numerous administrative challenges by TESPA’s prior attorney, Vanessa Puig-Williams.

In the agreement reached with BSEACD and the permit applicant, Needmore Water LLC, the settlement language is clear: “Neither Needmore Water LLC, its successors, or any other person or entity seeking to use the water authorized for production by the Permit cannot seek to amend, convert, or otherwise change the use of the water authorized in the Permit before May 19, 2027.”

If Needmore or its successors or assigns seek to convert or amend the permitted use, TESPA has the right to bring suit again challenging the permit on the same basis as the suit filed in 2020.

The recent positive developments in the litigation are related to the Electro Purification permit which has been the subject of re-evaluation by the BSEACD staff. These new proposed EP permit conditions mark an important new mindset by BSEACD of being far more protective of the aquifer and the people that depend on it.

Given this mindset, TESPA believes it can achieve better outcomes for groundwater protection by working more collaboratively with BSEACD’s new general manager, Vanessa Escobar. We are appreciative of her and her staff’s efforts. TESPA looks forward to working with Ms. Escobar, the BSEACD staff, and board of directors in the future on new science, methods, and ways to proactively protect the water resources in this area, rather than having to be reactive.

The litigation originally arose out of HB 3405 passed by the Texas Legislature in 2015. This bill gave jurisdiction to BSEACD over previously unregulated portions of the Trinity Aquifer in Hays County including the land now giving rise to the Needmore Water LLC permit application.

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