Environmental Stewardship Given Green Light to Challenge the TCEQ’s Management of the Lower Colorado River

Press Release Environmental Stewardship Given Green Light to Challenge TCEQ’s Management of the Lower Colorado River   Bastrop, TX. February 9, 2024.  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. CONTACT: Steve Box, Executive Director, Environmental Stewardship, 512-300-6609, info@envstwardship.org. Richard Martin, a long-time Bastrop County angler, and Environmental Stewardship (ES) moved a big step closer this week to arguing their…

Reluctant Regulator TCEQ; Legislature needs to hear from you!

Call or write your Legislators and ask that Delegation Amendments be added to

TCEQ Sunset Bills SB 1397 and HB 1505 so “Reluctant Regulator” works for We The People!

Two bills are circulating in the legislature right now to re-authorize the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to continue to regulate air and water pollution delegated to the state of Texas under the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts.

Unfortunately, the bills (SB 1397 and HB 1505) do not include the Delegation Amendments that are needed to bring TCEQ and the State into compliance with these federal laws — to work for We The People.


In response to a petition by 21 Texas organizations, including Environmental Stewardship (see Delegation Petition), EPA Region 6 is investigating whether to withdraw TCEQ’s authority to grant and enforce wastewater and air permits for the state of Texas. This major EPA action comes as TCEQ is granting new wastewater disposal permits into the Colorado River above Bastrop by The Boring Company (Gapped Bass LLC) and McKinney Roughs (Corix Utilities Inc.), and other wastewater treatment plants in, and below, Austin.


Environmental Stewardship believes that TCEQ is abusing its authority in granting these permits when there is evidence that the Colorado River is not meeting the exceptional water quality standards set on the section of the river between Austin and Bastrop where these wastewater discharges are proposed. These actions will only add to the degradation observed over the past 17+ years.


One of the remedies is for the Legislature to pass TCEQ Sunset bills that close the gaps by giving the statutes the proper requirements needed to govern how TCEQ administers these laws. Other issues have also been raised in the Legislature’s Sunset Review of TCEQ (see issues 1 and 3).


In plain language, we are asking that the Sunset bills include “Delegation Amendments” that: 


  1. Ensure that all persons impacted by the issuance of a permit, including those whose fishing and recreation will be harmed, are able to contest the permit;
  2. Ensure that the public should not bear the burden of demonstrating that an application is deficient when the applicant wants to pollute the environment; and
  3. Ensure that TCEQ does its job to protect our rivers and streams from degradation by pollutions by showing the public the science that demonstrates the receiving waters are meeting the standards (transparency).


Water Monitoring Project Collaborators

Updated:  June 5, 2022 Project Collaborators and Participant Environmental Stewardship’s interest is to have an ongoing monitoring program to ensure that the surface water and groundwater interests of the communities and environment of Bastrop and Lee Counties are protected.  We are grateful to our collaborators and participants who bring additional resources, skills, outreach, and educational…

State-of-the-art scientific instruments

We have purchased state-of-the-art instruments to bring science to decision-making. Updated May 14, 2022 Rather than continue to wait, and rely upon government entities to do the field studies that are needed to validate the groundwater availability model and provide empirical data to decision-maker, Environmental Stewardship has used the public funds from our individual and…

2021 Year-end review: accomplishments and goals for 2022

Dear Friends and Readers:
As we come to the end of 2021, please give me a few moments to review what we have accomplished this year, and what we hope to accomplish next year.
With COVID-19 still raging, virtual meetings became the standard in 2021. None-the-less we were able to participate in a number of key activities, mount a successful campaign to rein in the extreme desired future conditions (DFCs) proposed by GMA-12, and were on the wining end of the LCRA contested case decision. Below are the highlights.

Success Reining in Proposed DFCs

WaterDefenders make significant progress reining in Proposed Desired Future Conditions

GMA-12 votes against Lost Pines’ Conservation DFC

Figure 1. Graphic provided to the Lost Pines Board of Directors to demonstrate the concerns and requests from WaterDefenders Coalition (November 8, 2021, based on Scenario S-15)

We want to thank the Lost Pines Board of Directors for taking a strong stand in its recent vote to adopt conservation based Desired Future Conditions (DFCs) for the Simsboro aquifer. At the November 30th GMA-12 meeting we were able to confirm that the District will be able to adopt DFCs that are 10% more conservative for all aquifers as soon as they get certification back from the Texas Water Development Board that the adopted DFC are administratively complete, that their is agreement on the results of the pumping file, and Modeled Available Groundwater has been calculated for each aquifer.

Here is a brief summary of what happened over the last month.

After a major victory for conservation and consideration of domestic/livestock wells and surface waters by Lost Pines GCD Board (see below), the Groundwater Management Area 12 (GMA-12) representatives  voted against Lost Pines’ request at the November 12th meeting.

With the recent victory in hand, WaterDefenders went to the November 12th meeting hoping that all the member districts of GMA-12 would accept the “reasonable” actions taken by Lost Pines. However, we ended up with a decision by GMA-12 representatives that is a compromise.

General Manager, Jim Totten, made a motion to accept a pumping file [Scenario S-20] which would results in a new DFC of 183 feet average drawdown and about 30,300 acre-feet per year of pumping in the Simsboro formation for Lost Pines GCD.  While the motion was seconded by Post Oak Savannah GCD, it failed on 2-3 vote, yay-nay.

A second motion was made to accept a pumping file [S-19] which results in a new DFC of 240 feet average drawdown, and about 82,800 acre-feet per year (AFY) of pumping in the Simsboro formation for Lost Pines GCD. This motion passed 4-1, yay-nay.

However, this is a significant victory for WaterDefenders, stakeholders, landowners and surface waters in Lost Pines District.   Overall, this leaves us substantially ahead when compared to the Scenario S-12 that was initially proposed.  The reductions gained through WaterDefender efforts will result in a 54% reduction in pumping from the originally proposed DFC, and a 31% reduction in drawdown from the originally proposed DFC.

Decision on LCRA’s groundwater permit application

Griffith League Scout Ranch, Bastrop, TX.

In another major victory for Environmental Stewardship, a final decision and operating permits have been issued on the LCRA’s Griffith League Ranch groundwater permit application that requires the LCRA and the District to monitor the impact of groundwater pumping on surface water as a enforceable condition of the permit.

For nearly a decade, Environmental Stewardship has had three primary objectives in protecting the Colorado River. The first objective has been to get a surface water-groundwater monitoring network installed in the river basin in Bastrop, Texas. The second objective has been to protect the river and its tributaries from over-pumping by limiting the amount of pumping allowed in the Desired Future Conditions (DFCs) within the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District and Groundwater Management Area 12, The third objective has been to get a surface water specific DFC adopted for the river.

With this decision, and the progress made by our WaterDefenders coalition in limiting the amount of pumping allowed under the DFCs, key elements of Environmental Stewardship’s primary objectives regarding protection of the Colorado River and its tributaries are set to be met in the next few years.

Reject “Proposed Desired Future Conditions” for GMA-12

Sustainable management  – not aquifer mining – is the only way to protect our local communities and the environment from groundwater over-pumping!

The “Proposed desired future conditions (DFCs)” that are about to be voted on by the  five groundwater conservation districts in the counties listed below are at the heart of this issue.  They are members of Groundwater Management Area 12 (GMA-12). We have the opportunity now to make our desires known and re-direct how our aquifers are to be managed.  

The clock is ticking on our ability to reject the manage-to-depletion mindset that is imbedded in GMA-12’s “Proposed Desired Future Conditions”.  We have a very short time period to raise our voices and require that our water resources be sustainably managed in a way that protects landowners’ exempt domestic and irrigation wells, and the resilience of our rivers and streams to the droughts that are just around the corner.    Water, and how it is managed, will determine the future of our communities, our environment,  and our rivers, including the Colorado, Brazos, Trinity and the Navasota rivers.

The WaterDefenders.org Coalition of  Environmental Stewardship and the Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund invite all citizens, landowners, local government officials, businesses, and community organizations to join us in rejecting the “Proposed Desired Future Conditions” and management policies being set for GMA-12, the Groundwater Management Area in which we live.