Press Release: TESPA Announces Legal Action Against Proposed Rock Quarry in Edwards Recharge Zone
The Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Alliance (TESPA) formally filed for legal action against the rock crushing facility on Needmore Ranch by Far South Mining LLC on November 7, 2022. More details can be found in their press release issued November 10, 2022 or on their website: Far South Mining LLC — TESPA (tespatexas.org)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 10, 2022
TESPA Announces Legal Action Against Proposed Rock Quarry in Edwards Recharge Zone
The Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association (TESPA) sent its First Amended Notice of Intent (NOI) to bring a legal action against Far South Mining LLC (FSM) for a proposed rock quarry and rock crushing operation in Hays County. The NOI, sent on November 7, 2022, triggers a 60-day waiting period required by law before TESPA’s lawsuit against FSM can be filed in federal court.
TESPA is requesting FSM to abandon its plans for a rock quarry on the Needmore Ranch between Wimberley and San Marcos. The FSM permit request estimates the footprint of the operation to be 2,000 x 4,000 feet in size. That’s equivalent to 127 football fields of mining and land disruption on the Needmore Ranch, in an area formerly known as “Little Arkansas”.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has already approved the quarry permit for air quality. However, the 44-page NOI from TESPA cites numerous potential violations of federal rules including the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and Safe Drinking Water Act.
In its NOI, TESPA asks for an injunction to prohibit the quarry/rock crushing activities because FSM has failed to apply for and to obtain the permits required to comply with the Edwards Aquifer Act and regulations of the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program.
Jeff Mundy, attorney for TESPA, pointed out, “Contamination of water by a limestone quarry is nothing new, but this situation is particularly dangerous because of the location, right on top of the recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer, where the groundwater is very near the surface and very much in jeopardy.
“This type of mining operation injects an explosive slurry mixture of ammonium nitrate and diesel fuel into the limestone. The residue of ammonium nitrate and diesel accumulates over time contaminating the water supply. The City of Miami had multiple municipal water wells polluted from a limestone mining operation.
“Also, as area residents learned during the construction of the Permian Highway Pipeline as it attempted to drill under the Blanco River, fluids injected into holes in the karst, such as this area, are lost as they go into the voids in the karst. Injecting ammonium nitrates and diesel into the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone is a threat to our water.”
The NOI states that the quarry and rock crushing operation will likely cause harm, or “take”, of endangered species such as the Comal Springs Dryopid Beetle, Golden-cheeked Warbler, San Marcos Springs Salamander, and Texas Blind Salamander. There is also the potential for contamination of groundwater and drinking water supplies from related activities that involve blasting, operation of heavy equipment, rock crushing, and an estimated 100-plus truckloads of rock per day on Hays County roads.
“Far South Mining’s plan for a quarry and rock crushing plant threatens to disrupt aquifer recharge and groundwater movement within our karst landscape,” said Jim Blackburn, TESPA board president. “It must be stopped.”
TESPA is particularly concerned with making sure that groundwater from the Needmore Ranch is not used for rock crushing operations. Under a previous settlement agreement reached between TESPA and Needmore, after TESPA challenged Needmore’s groundwater permit, Needmore may only use groundwater pumped under its permit for agricultural irrigation and wildlife use.
“We are in communication with the Barton Springs Edward Aquifer Conservation District management, and our area elected local and state officials about our issues and concerns,” said TESPA Executive Director Patrick Cox, Ph.D. “We appreciate the vigilance of everyone in our community who wants to protect the quality and integrity of the environment and preserve the Texas Hill Country.”
TESPA is a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect the Trinity and Edwards aquifers, the springs that flow from this interconnected system, and protect these waters for the people and wildlife who use and depend on them. www.TESPAtexas.org
Media contact: Patrick Cox, PhD, Executive Director, TESPA