San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner WILL CONLEY writes that a for-profit company’s efforts to develop a commercial well field over an un-regulated patch of the Trinity Aquifer warrants ‘a great deal of concern.’ 


A large, unregulated well field is being developed in the midwestern portion of Hays County near FM 3237 by a Houston-based company called Electro Purification LLC. They propose to deliver to potential customers about 6,000 acre-feet of water per year out of this area of the Trinity Aquifer.

As the representative of Hays County Pct. 3, this gives me a great deal of concern. I am worried about the potential impact on residential and commercial wells in the nearby area and I am wary of the overall health of the Trinity Aquifer in Hays County.

State Rep. Jason Isaac, Hays County Pct. 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant and I met with the principals of Electro Purification on Jan. 8. We each expressed our concerns over this amount of water being distributed out of this area. Electro Purification and their representatives ensured us that the proper studies have been done and that they felt confident their project wouldn’t negatively impact the surrounding area or the Trinity Aquifer.

I asked them to consider these objectives:

  1. Identifying an exit strategy for the project;
  2. Executing a binding agreement that protected area well owners, should the project negatively impact their water supplies;
  3. Sharing their costs in the project at this point in time;
  4. Sharing the data associated with the project; and
  5. Providing copies of any contracts or letters of intent they may have with potential customers.

Electro Purification officials said that they would provide the information in the last two of my requests, however, they asked for more time to consider their level of comfort with the first three.

At this time, I have received no information from Electro Purification. I have asked in two different emails that they at least provide the well data to my office. I am hopeful that they will respond to these requests, as it would provide us with an opportunity to have a real conversation about the impact of their proposed operations.

My colleagues and I have asked the groundwater conservation districts in Hays County to get together and see if they can develop some reasonable legislation that might cover this gap in groundwater regulatory authority in our community. To my knowledge, the groundwater districts are working together and will try to deliver something to Rep. Isaac in the near future. This is a complicated issue that will warrant a tremendous amount of discussion. However, I am optimistic that our groundwater districts, working with Rep. Isaac, can come up with a good solution.

The rule of capture should not be the only rule that applies to a corporate entity with the intentions of commercial distribution of water resources. I believe there must be some accountability on this whole process beyond free market principles that will protect the private property rights of land owners in an impacted area.

As of yesterday, the my office has filed Public Information Act requests with the cities of of Kyle, Mountain City and Buda and with the Goforth Special Utility District. I filed these requests to ensure we have all the information available in order to make the best decisions moving forward in our representation of the citizens of Hays County.

We need to understand the entirety of the issue.

If any information has been shared or discussed with these political subdivisions, access to that information will allow us to better assess the situation. I do not want to imply that these political subdivisions aren’t cooperating with informal request. I believe that implementing formal requests was simply the best way to move forward in a timely manner. Hopefully, my office will receive information from these entities in the near future that helps us better understand the issues at hand.

Commissioner Whisenant and I have placed an agenda item on the agenda for the next commissioners court session on Tuesday, Jan. 20. During this court session, I plan to share with my colleagues the information we may have about this project. We will also discuss next steps. I assume this will be one of many meetings that we will have on this issue.

This is a very difficult and complicated issue. This proposed project may also have a direct impact on many people throughout Hays County. It is important in this time of tremendous change in Hays County that we do things wisely and carefully while maintaining our core principles and beliefs.

As difficult as that can be, it is the challenge that is before us today.


Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner WILL CONLEY distributed this correspondence Tuesday evening to media and his constituents. It has been edited here for clarity and length.

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3 thoughts on “Letter: ‘Rule of capture’ shouldn’t be absolute for commercial groundwater pumpers

  1. Drill baby drill. Then pump baby pump. And when you’ve emptied the hole move on and screw the public somewhere else. Texas water usage laws are a a total wreck.

  2. Presumably they would be delivering the water by pipeline. Pipes must be laid in easements. Can public entities deny the granting of an easement to Electro?

  3. AAARRRRR! Retrograde Water Bandits in Hays County cite the ‘Rule of Capture’ and say, “Your water is mine and I’m taking it!”

    Sixteenth-century Spanish pirates cited the ‘Rule of Capture’ when they took what they wanted. Turning the tables on them, didn’t privateer Sir Francis Drake also cite the “Rule of Capture’ when he boarded those Spanish galleons?

    How should we deal with water bandits? Meekly and politely, or firmly as in the example of Sir Francis Drake? AAARRRRR!

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