Friday, March 1, 2013

Judge hears arguments in Jacob's Well groundwater dispute

judge article
The clear water that flows out of Jacob's Well has brought people to the Wimberley Valley for thousands of years, but in recent years the spring has stopped flowing, something which didn't happen even in the drought of record during the 1950s.
"The reason it's gone dry is because of the heavy pumping from wells that are in the area," attorney Malcolm Harris said.
For decades the community of Woodcreek has grown up around the spring. The Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District is tasked with protecting water in the area.
In 2011, they approved a permit which allowed a Woodcreek developer to pump 250 acre-feet—about 80 million gallons—of water each a year.
Conservation groups opposed to the permit sued, saying they were denied a proper hearing.
"We sought to have a contested case hearing on the application which would mean we could present our scientific evidence about the impact of pumping from the aquifer on the flow of the spring," Harris said.
On Tuesday, attorneys for the developer and the conservation group argued that they followed law and the district's rules in denying the contested case hearing because the hearing wasn't requested until after the board had approved the permit.
"The bottom line question is did they properly, the plaintiffs, protest the application filed by my client at the hearing?" attorney Russell Johnson said.
Now it's up a Judge to decide if a contested case hearing should have been granted.
"The district manager, the applicants, all of them understood that they had 10 days after that first meeting to request a contested case hearing," Harris said.

This case has been postponed several times because several Hays County judges recused themselves. Judge Dwight Peschel heard the case.

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