Protecting the Colorado River Basin, Aquifers, and Bays of the Texas Gulf Coast
ALERT Update: Hearings both Virtual and In-Person
LCRA Rehearing April 4th, 2 pm
City of Bastrop Hearing April 4th, 6 pm
We are thankful for your
unwavering support for these many years.


We have recently learned that the LCRA and City of Bastrop hearings will be held both Virtual and In-Person. See below for more details. Here are the agendas: LCRA Agenda. City of Bastrop Agenda.

The in-person meetings will be held at the following location:

Bastrop Convention Center
1408 Chestnut Street
Bastrop, Texas 78602
LCRA Rehearing: 2:00 p.m., April 4, 2022
City of Bastrop Hearing: 6:00 p.m., April 4, 2022

Zoom Meeting Link for Both Meetings:
Meeting ID: 894 5368 5006
Passcode: 283972

Telephone conference:
Phone number: Dial +1 346 248 7799
Meeting ID: 894 5368 5006 # Passcode: 283972


City of Bastrop Hearing

Environmental Stewardship Provided Rice Report and Comments on the City of Bastrop Application

In a letter to Lost Pines District and the City of Bastrop, Environmental Stewardship submitted Mr. George Rice's report: Effects of City of Bastrop's Proposed Pumping On Discharge of Groundwater to the Main Stem of the Colorado River, along with its comments for consideration. 

Mr. Rice's report predicts that the proposed City of Bastrop pumping, along with other District pumping, will likely cause an incremental decrease in the discharge of groundwater to the Main Stem of the Colorado River from the aquifers in the District by 2070.  This incremental decrease is predicted to reduce the discharge (outflow) of the aquifers to the Colorado River by an amount that will cause the relationship of the river to the aquifer to become a "losing" stream by as early as about 2060.  The reversal from a "gaining" to a "losing" relationship between the river and the aquifers is recognized by many scientists to be an unreasonable effect on the river.  Environmental Stewardship also considers this to be a potential unreasonable effect on the river.  

In Figure 2 below, a "gaining" stream is the portion of the line above the red dotted line at zero "0" Discharge to the river. A "losing" stream is the portion of the line below the red dotted line.
Environmental Stewardship also recognizes that the Groundwater Availability Model (GAM) is the best science currently available to evaluate such impacts.  Further, it is recognized that the GAM currently has limitations that are based on the need for additional field data to validate such predictions so that they can be relied upon in making technical and policy decisions.  This, along with the recognition that the City of Bastrop is requesting that the three wells be permitted in order to provide the City and it residents with a stable and secure water source, and that the City intends to retire six (6) wells in the Colorado Alluvial Aquifer (CAA), provides an opportunity for the City and the District to work together to take necessary actions to avoid the potential unreasonable impacts on the river by establishing a well monitoring system for the CAA and improve the reliability of its permit decisions.  

A well monitoring system to determine if a stream is gaining or losing has been described by Steven Young (Young et al)[1] in section 4.1 of the 2017 report to the Colorado Lavaca Basin and Bay Area Stakeholder Committee (CL BBASC), and has been used in the lower Colorado River Basin. 

The proposed monitoring of the Colorado Alluvial Aquifer is based on the demonstrated methodology described in the above cited report as follows:    

  • 4.1.4 Studies Including Stream Gages and Nearby Alluvium Water Wells 
  • The most direct approach to determine whether a stream is gaining or losing is to compare the water elevation in the stream to the elevation of the water table in the aquifer or alluvial adjacent to the stream. This type of study was performed as part of the Lower Colorado River Authority-San Antonio Water System Water Project in the lower Colorado River Basin. This project included installing an alluvium well approximately 300 feet from the stream gage at the city of Wharton and at Bay City (URS and Baer Engineering, 2006; 2007). The alluvium wells were drilled with hollow stem augers and consisted of 4-inch diameter Schedule 40 Polyvinyl Chloride casing with 40-foot screens. (Emphasis added)

Environmental Stewardship appreciates the opportunity to provide this scientific input to the District and the Board as it considers the potential impacts of the City of Bastrop's request.  We would consider implementation of a monitoring system such as described herein to be a major step forward in protecting the Colorado River and its tributaries, natural resources that are of great importance to the City, the District, and the residents of Bastrop and Lee Counties.  
[1] Steven Young, Toya Jones, Marius Jigmo. August 2017. Final Report: Field Studies and Updates to the Central Carrizo-Wilcox, Queen City, and Sparta GAM to Improve the Quantification of Surface Water-Groundwater Interaction in the Colorado River Basin.
Status of Freshwater Inflows into the Highland Lakes
(2021- February, 2022)
Focus on the PURPLE bars!
Do you see anything that concerns you?
Freshwater inflows into the Highland Lakes
2022 inflows to the Highland Lakes are in PURPLE above

2021 inflows to the Highland Lakes are in PURPLE below.
Why this is important to the lower Colorado River basin

The instream environmental flows that are released to the lower basin, or passed-through Lake Travis, are regulated by the LCRA based on the amount of inflows received into the Highland Lakes. Without adequate inflows, release of water down-stream for interuptable (irrigation) or environmental flow purposes are restricted. Without these releases, minimum flows in the lower basin are dependent on return flows from the city of Austin and Travis county wastewater treatment plants, and groundwater inflows from the aquifers.

All too often we are told that during times of drought the LCRA will not let the river go dry and will simply release water from the Highland Lakes. However, this is not true for two reasons. First, since the last drought of record caught the LCRA off guard by starting right after they had released a huge volume of water for irrigation into the lower basin, the rules for maintaining the water levels in the highland lakes have changed. Lead by the Central Texas Water Coalition, who keeps a watchful eye on the water levels in the Highland Lakes, and other stakeholders like the City of Austin, and environmental interests like Texas Parks and Wildlife and Environmental Stewardship, the LCRA's Highland Lakes Management Plan was updated to put better planning safeguards in place so that the lake levels are better managed. Second, as with the recent drought-of-record, the LCRA can, and has, requested that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) provide an emergency exemption to the LCRA, thereby releasing them from the obligation to release water into the lower basin for environmental and irrigation purposes.

More on this topic as we progress into the coming dry months

--------------------------------- GET MORE DETAILS HERE -----------------------------

Request for Donations

Throughout the year we request that you keep Environmental Stewardship -- and the work we do to protect your surface water, groundwater, coastal bays and estuaries -- in mind as you make your gift plans.  Currently our work is limited by the amount of individual and business donations we receive each year, so your generous donation throughout the year will help us maximize the work we will be able to do in 2022. 
On behalf our Board of Directors and me, 
thank you for your help and participation.

Steve Box
Board President and Executive Director
Environmental Stewardship
Steve Box | Executive Director | Environmental Stewardship | A WATERKEEPER ALLIANCE Affiliate
Our Mission

Environmental Stewardship is a charitable nonprofit organization whose purposes are to meet current and future needs of the environment and its inhabitants by protecting and enhancing the earth's natural resources; to restore and sustain ecological services using scientific information; and to encourage public stewardship through environmental education and outreach.  

We are a Texas nonprofit 501(c) (3) charitable organization headquartered in Bastrop, Texas.