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BCRAGD grants Camp OTX variance from drought restrictions

May 24, 2023 - 00:00
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    A packed BCRAGD meeting room listens to General Manager Dave Mauk discuss his thoughts on a variance request from Camp OTX last Thursday. BULLETIN PHOTO/ Daniel Tucker

In a unanimous decision last Thursday, the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District granted Camp OTX a variance from drought management restrictions.

BCRAGD General Manager Dave Mauk, General Manager of the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District said the variance had to be looked at without emotion and under state code.

“They have a TCEQ permit. We cannot classify this as waste under this new code, said Mauk. “We may not like it. We might all think its wasteful, but the code says it’s not in this case.”

Mauk recommended to grant Camp OTX, a Tarpley youth camp, a variance not to exceed 24-acre feet out of an existing allotment from the Lower Trinity only during stage five drought restrictions. Mauk said the county is currently in stage four.

“We have to balance the aquifer, but we also have to balance the rights of the permitee,” he said. “That’s what we’re told to do.”

In response to some concerns voiced during the citizen comment portion of the meeting, Mauk said there was an issue with the well in question, but it has since been fixed.

“It was out of service. I went and checked,” he said. “There was an issue with it that was fixed. It simply needed to be jetted. Pump was put in it and tested. The well works, it’s fine now.”

Another concern voiced by the public was that even though Camp OTX says their well digs into the Lower Trinity Aquifer, it would impact the Middle Trinity.

“In a lot of areas, the Lower Trinity and Middle Trinity communicate, but there is no known communication in Bandera County,” said Mauk. “That’s the known science. That could change, but that is what’s known now.”

Following Mauk’s recommendation, the group voted unanimously. Rebeca Gibson was absent.

The beginning of the meeting was flooded with public comment. Among other concerns, locals voiced concerns that Camp OTX was asking for water while other wells were dry or collapsing.

Others voiced concerns that the decision would set a precedence for similar variances in the future.