Serving Kerr County with a Conscience

Martin Marietta in Kerr County and Texas


Letters to the Editor continue the accurate listing of the negatives of the new Martin Marietta gravel mine - outside of a dozen jobs and some taxes paid by MM there are few positives. And those jobs may not be nearly as desirable or beneficial to Kerrville as the potential harm to the airport business community and surrounding housing developments. Maybe the paychecks do not even stay in Kerr County - a lot of things down TX 27 seem to be sliding or being pushed towards the Comfort and Kendall County economy. Yet, local politicos keep voting for these projects? Good to see our Chamber finally speaking out and taking a strong and logical position against this particular site - not MM, but the location they chose.

Sand and gravel mining in Texas is likely a lot more profitable than in other states which have good state laws and regulations regulating sites, operations, community welfare, environmental protections and, importantly, a state agency that enforces the letter and the spirit of laws protecting our waters, air, land, wildlife, neighbors and the business community. Until Texas legislators stand up and pass such laws we will continue to be the profitable target of both local and out of state projects taking full advantage of weak or non-existent laws and enforcement.

WE have to push our Texas senators and representatives to do their job to protect Texas for the future - not just for immediate profits and election donations. Be involved in the present election of our new state Senator - after they are elected, it is hard to remove any of them. Get it right now. Our beautiful Guadalupe River, the Kerrville valley and the watershed all need our oversight and involvement or soon it may not be the attractive town and county we now enjoy.

Mike Mecke

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Water Availability Studies

Kerr County is the only Texas Hill country County that does not require water availability studies for new developments.

I pulled up a newspaper article from 2006 (wow can't believe I found it) that says a little more about it. Read the articlehere.

Let's hope Bandera County doesn't copy us in this regard as well.

Later,

Mary J. Matthews for Kerr County Conscience
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Wheatcraft

Center Point citizens have become aware of another attempt by Wheatcraft gravel mining operations to obtain a permanent rock and cement crushing permit for their HW 27 quarry site. The mining operator originally applied for such a permit in 2006. Indeed the rock crusher construction had begun without a permit but the Wheatcraft owners were forced to dismantle the structure when a knowledgeable neighbor requested a TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) investigation.

During the subsequent permit application process citizens organized into GREAT (Guadalupe River Environmental Action Team) and opposed the approval of the application. Wheatcraft already had the gravel surface mining operation in full production. The mined area along the Guadalupe River banks had become barren with the riparian area stripped of vegetation and only a few cypress trees remaining. The large amount of water being pumped from the Guadalupe for the gravel washing process was evident with a noticeable decrease in flow below the Wheatcraft river pump. Holding ponds required to contain runoff from the gravel washing process were not up to TCEQ standards and required revision.

GREAT members called attention to the health hazards posed by a rock crusher at the Hwy 27 location. Concerns were voiced over airborne particulates posing a health threat to the nearby Center Point school children and the high concentration of frail elderly. Prevailing winds could carry the contaminates several miles from the site.

If granted a cement crushing permit the old cement would be arriving from distant locations with unknown makeup and a high likliehood of toxic material content including silicone, lead, mercury and asbestos. Particulates from these toxic materials could produce an even greater health threat including cancer, skin and lung disease.

Over a period of months GREAT established its tax free status by aligning with the Texas Rivers Protection Association, hired legal council, prepared for the local TCEQ hearing and began maneuvering the legal system. Wheatcraft withdrew their application immediately before a court hearing after errors in their application had been revealed.

In the interim 5 years Wheatcraft has continued the surface mining of the entire highway 27 site with the results visible from Highway 27. Previous farmland, grazing and wildlife areas have been destroyed. There are no plans for restoration. This previously quiet pristine section of the river has been deserted by recreational tourists. Fishermen, floaters and paddlers prefer to avoid the dust, noise and barren riverfront. Wheatcraft has pumped huge amounts of aquifer water for their gravel washing operations in the area of the county at greatest risk for dry wells.

In 2008 Wheatcraft began operating a temporary cement and rock crushing operation. They have now applied to TCEQ for a permanent permit. GREAT members and local citizens met on Nov. 1, 2011 in opposition to Wheatcraft's application for a permanent permit. Concerns were expressed over air quality, river contamination at the site, contaminants settling in surrounding soil and runoff into the river.

The public can comment on the Wheatcraft application and request a local hearing. The communication must arrive at TCEQ before Nov. 17, 2011.

Download your comment form here. Fill it out and send it to the link below.

Below is the link to go online to send in your form:
http://www.tceq.texas.gov/about/comments.html

Below is the link to go online to see the facility site map for Wheatcraft:
http://www.tceq.texas.gov/assets/public/hb610/index.html?lat=29.9436&lng=99.0183&zoom=13&type=r

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Center Point Wastewater/Water Project


Some time ago Commissioner Bill Williams held a public meeting in Center Point announcing a proposed sewage project which would collect and transport raw sewage along a pipeline north of Highway 27 to the Comfort wastewater treatment plant. Later Commissioners Williams and Letz found a property owner willing to sell land for a sewage treatment plant in Center Point----thus the project expanded to a sewage treatment plant in Center Point.
The Upper Guadalupe River Authority has been working on a water project for the Center Point Area for several years. Their proposal includes using their river pumping rights to pull water from the river, treat the water, store it in an ASR and sell it wholesale to the public water systems in the area such as Aqua Texas and Weidenfeld Water Works.
Now the two projects seem to have merged or perhaps the original or total plan was just not revealed at the Center Point meeting which served as the required public hearing for the sewage project.
We now know the targeted property for the sewage treatment plant (County Commissioners) and water treatment plant (UGRA) is across from the Center Point little league fields. The water will be drawn from the Center Point Lions Park Lake. One of the public water supply systems has a dry well which is being considered for the ASR storage. The additional cost to each individual residential water user in Center Point has been projected to be $70 per month when last mentioned.
Environmental Impact studies and archeological studies must be done before such projects can move forward. The Texas Water Development Board staff has required such studies from the UGRA but our UGRA Board of Directors has now gone around the TWDB staff and sent a letter directly to the TWDB Board of Directors asking them to intervene and allow the water treatment plant to use the studies from the wastewater project.
Have environmental impact and archeological studies already been done on the county commissioners sewer project? Does the grant money we were told about at the Center Point hearing really pay all the costs of this monumental project? What is the real impact of locating these plants on the Highway 27 corridor? Should Center Point and Kerr County citizens be given an open hearing and update on these projects?

It would be helpful if knowledgeable citizens would go to the project proposal at the website below and check for accuracy. The data was collected in 2006 and projected through 2011.

http://204.64.181.50/RWPG/rpgm_rpts/0604830607_kerr.pdf

Arial view of proposed site location.

https://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&ik=1d3b1df30e&view=att&th=1326fe9837f5b28c&attid=0.1&disp=inline&zw

F. Lovett

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