Water Board rejects Pumpco’s well application for pipeline staging site in Alpine

Opponents of the Trans-Pecos Pipeline scored a small victory yesterday as the Brewster County Ground Water Conservation District rejected Pumpco, Inc.’s application to draw nearly 9 million gallons of groundwater annually from a non-commercial well drilled in 1994 at their 23-acre worksite in Alpine.

“This permit application doesn’t conform with the rules in our books,” said Mike Davidson, one of the seven board members present. “It is not compatible with ground water district rules.”

The “nay” vote was unanimous. Tom Beard abstained.

A Pumpco, Inc. representative, who is apparently in charge of paving the site, said he would re-apply for a permit at a lower quantity. He also said they were filling their trucks at the well “five times a day.” He later said the tanker trucks have a capacity of 4,000 gallons each.

According to Alpine City Councilman Rick Stephens, Pumpco has also been buying about 21,000 gallons of city water every day.

The meeting room at the Brewster County Annex was standing room only and many citizens commented on the adverse effects the proposed pipeline would have on the area’s water supply.

“This operation may or may not be sustainable,” said Suzanne Baily who lives in a house next door to the Pumpco site. “There is no time for (well) recovery if they are pumping at this rate.”

Former Brewster County Judge Val Beard said, “There will be drawdown.” She also encouraged the board to deal with this “contentious situation,” adding that they have the “tools” to govern and avoid “the pumping wars” that have happened in the past.

Engineer Coyne Gibson stated that the Trans Pecos Pipeline could use up to 1.5 billion gallons of water during the construction mode, not to mention water needed to clean the pipeline between pigs once in operation.

Walt Pyle wanted to know, “Where will the pipeline waste water go?”

Professor Theron Francis suggested the proposal to pump water at the requested rate was “as if there is no tomorrow.” He also stated the proposed pipeline was “diabolical.”

Sara Kennedy-Mele, a resident of Sunny Glen, said their well water pressure is “already low” and asked “who would pay to drill our well deeper?” She also stated the water is apparently being used for dust control. “It is not holding the dust down. If that’s what the water is used for it seems pretty ridiculous.”

Brant Bucannon said, “The water would be lost forever from our region due to evaporation.” He also stated that micro-climatic effects such as hot soil surface temperatures where vegetation is non-existent, such as pipeline corridors, could “repel clouds.”

Another speaker suggested that the City of Alpine, which produces about 700,000 gallons of treated waste water daily, should sell the treated water rather than aquifer water to Pumpco. “Although,” the speaker added, “I am not interested in helping Pumpco in any way.”

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