Posted by BSEACD Staff on February 11, 2020
Kinder Morgan has proposed a natural gas pipeline that crosses through the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (District) in Hays County. The proposed alignment crosses environmentally sensitive areas. Staff have compiled data in the form of maps to examine how the proposed alignment relates to the hydrogeology of the District.
On March 25, 2021, Judge Pitman issued a final order in this case. The order granted the motions to dismiss filed by Kinder Morgan and the Federal Government. The essence of the defendants’ motions, and also of the Judge’s order, is that because the construction of the PHP is substantially complete, the case is now moot. The judge described in his rulings that he couldn’t offer the plaintiffs relief when they sought a preliminary injunction because the harm hadn’t happened yet, and then there was a delay in which the Judge did not rule on the plaintiff’s motions for Summary Judgment for months during the pandemic. Finally, the Judge dismissed the plaintiffs motions for Summary Judgment because too much time had passed.
- Plaintiffs’ Original Complaint
- Memorandum in Support of Application for PI
- Plaintiffs’ Motion Requesting Emergency Hearing
On Thursday, January 16, the District’s Board of Directors voted to join as a plaintiff in a lawsuit against U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and Kinder Morgan for violation of the Endangered Species Act stating that because there is not a reasonable assurance that the aquifers will be protected during the construction and operation of the pipeline, the Permian Highway Pipeline should not be located within the District or any other hydrologically-sensitive area. “Ensuring the endangered aquatic species of the aquifer continue to thrive ensures the water resource will remain viable for the people that depend on it,” said Board Vice President Craig Smith.
Kinder Morgan is attempting to avoid the proper steps needed to fully mitigate the impact of pipeline construction and operation to the aquifers and endangered species in the area. These steps include obtaining a biological opinion from USFWS as well as the preparation of an incidental take permit and the creation of a habitat conservation plan, both of which are called for when any action – direct or indirect – presents a significant threat to a species or its habitat in wetlands under the USACE’s jurisdiction as well as in uplands on private lands.
“The BSEACD is committed to protection of the aquifer, the endangered species that dwell within, and the water resource that provides drinking water for tens of thousands of people within our District. Kinder Morgan has avoided review of the pipeline by appropriate environmental agencies and vetting by the public. Without these processes, we cannot ensure construction and operation of the pipeline will be reasonably protective of our water resource. If the water that supplies the IH35 corridor in Hays County is negatively impacted by the pipeline, the economic and environmental impacts would be disastrous,” stated Blayne Stansberry, President of the District’s Board of Directors.
Recently, the District communicated with staff from the Railroad Commission of Texas (Commission) to schedule a meeting between neighboring GCDs and the City of Austin with those divisions of the Commission that oversee oil and gas pipelines. In lieu of the meeting, the Commission provided written responses to questions relating to the protection of groundwater resources from pipeline construction, operations, and maintenance. While receiving these responses was much appreciated, the Commission’s responses do not address the concerns as to how sensitive karst aquifers are specifically and proactively to be protected. Commission answers to GCD questions (Nov. 2019, pdf).
District Presentations and Documents:
- BSEACD Board of Directors passes vote to join as a plaintiff in a lawsuit against U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and Kinder Morgan for violation of the Endangered Species Act (pdf, 1/17/2020)
- Board Resolution opposing the location of Kinder Morgan pipeline (pdf, 3/28/2019)
- Information request made to Kinder Morgan (pdf, 3/20/19)
- Karst Systems of Hays County and the Edwards and Trinity Aquifers, (BSEACD Board meeting presentation, pdf, 3/14/19)
- General Manager’s update to BSEACD Board (pdf, 2/21/19)
- Karst Systems of Hays County and the Edwards and Trinity Aquifers, (HTGCD & BSEACD presentation to Kinder Morgan, pdf, 2/20/19)
- BSEACD Comments and Concerns presented at Wimberley Open House (pdf)
Other Presentations and Documents:
- Railroad Commission Answers to GCD Questions (pdf, 11/23/2019)
- Notice of Intent to Sue (pdf, 10/16/2019)
- TREAD Coalition: Cities, Water Authorities Issue Warning to Federal Government: Make Permian Highway Pipeline Comply with the Endangered Species Act (TREAD Press release,10/16/2019)
- City of Austin Water Quality Impacts Report (pdf, 8/28/2019)
- Draft City of Austin Resolution (pdf, 6/20/19)
- Hays Trinity GCD Resolution (pdf, 3/27/19)
- City of Wimberley Resolution (pdf, 3/7/2019)
- City of San Marcos Resolution (pdf, 3/5/2019)
- Hill Country Underground Water District Resolution (pdf, 3/5/2019)
- Blanco Pedernales GCD Resolution (pdf, 2/21/19)
- City of Kyle Resolution (pdf, 2/20/2019)
- City of Woodcreek Resolution (pdf, 2/13/2019)
- Hays Co Resolution (pdf, Feb 2019)
- Kinder Morgan Presentation to BSEACD Board (pdf, 3/14/19)
- Occurence of Karst and Springs (Plate 14), Hydrogeologic Atlas of the Hill Country Trinity Aquifer
- Surface and Groundwater Interaction (Plate 13), Hydrogeologic Atlas of the Hill Country Trinity Aquifer
- Recharge and Groundwater Flow (Plate 12), Hydrogeologic Atlas of the Hill Country Trinity Aquifer
- Hydraulic Interaction between the Edwards and Trinity Aquifers (Plate 16), Hydrogeologic Atlas of the Hill Country Trinity Aquifer
- Hydrogeologic Atlas of the Hill Country Trinity Aquifer
- Groundwater Tracing Study of the Barton Springs Segment of the Edwards Aquifer, 2004
- Tracing Groundwater Flowpaths in the Vicinity of San Marcos Springs, Texas, Edwards Aquifer Authority, 2012
- Hays County karst invertebrate distribution and cave development, Section 6 report for TPWD Endangered Species Program
- Kinder Morgan Permian Highway Pipeline project page: https://phpproject.com/
- Hays County Kinder Morgan Pipeline information page: http://www.co.hays.tx.us/kinder-morgan-permian-highway-pipeline