The Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) is a regulatory agency established by the 73rd Legislature in May 1993 with the passage of the Edwards Aquifer Authority Act to preserve and protect this unique groundwater resource. However, legal challenges prevented
Robert L. Gulley, PhD, Director, Division of Economic Growth and Endangered Species Management
Robert L. Gulley, PhD, Director, Division of Economic Growth andEndangered Species Management
Robert L. Gulley is the Director of the Economic Growth and Endangered Species Management Division of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.Previously, he was the Executive Director of the Habitat Conservation Program at the Edwards Aquifer Authority and the Program Manager for the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program.Dr. Gulley has over 25 years` experience as an environmental attorney.He is the author of "Heads above Water: The Real Story of the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program" that was published Texas A&M Press in January 2014 and teaches a course in groundwater resources at Texas State University.
"The Edwards Aquifer Authority Board of Directors recently approved a funding and management agreement to implement a habitat conservation plan for the Edwards Aquifer," said Robert Gulley, Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources program coordinator for the Edwards Aquifer Restoration Implementation Plan.
"The plan will protect the Edwards Aquifer, a major groundwater system in Texas serving approximately 2 million people, and contribute to a stable water supply for the region while protecting the endangered species," Gulley said.
"The plan marks the first time that area stakeholders have reached a consensus resolution to the regional conflicts between species protection and Edwards Aquifer pumping that have existed for decades," Gulley said.
Gulley added that conflict related to aquifer water use has been ongoing for about 50 years and the plan's approval by the aquifer authority "marks the final chapter in that dispute."
"As a result, the region will now have certainty about its use of the aquifer, control of the aquifer and the aquifer will be managed at a regional level rather than by the federal government," he said.
According to Gulley, under state law the Edwards Aquifer Authority must implement a program by Dec. 31, 2012 to ensure that continuous minimum output of the Comal and San Marcos springs are maintained to protect listed species as required by federal law.
The habitat conservation plan and supporting documents will be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for approval.Gulley said he anticipates the Fish and Wildlife Service will make a decision whether to approve the plan by fall 2012.
"The approval of the habitat protection plan will help protect the region from litigation under the Endangered Species Act and will bring unprecedented certainty to Edwards groundwater rights for as long as the plan is in effect," he said.
Gulley said implementing the plan will cost an estimated $18.6 million annually and, as a result, there will be an increase in aquifer management fees.
"The two major projects in the plan are paying farmers who sign up for a voluntary irrigation suspension program and placing additional water in the SAWS Aquifer Storage and Recovery facility in the Carrizo Aquifer," Gulley said.
"Many other measures, including habitat improvements in the Comal and San Marcos springs, municipal conservation programs and a Stage 5 pumping cutback as a last resort, are in the plan."
He added that further study over the next seven years will determine whether these measures are sufficient to protect the listed species, and, if not, what additional methods would be most effective.
Robert Gulley, 210-222-0711, firstname.lastname@example.org
EnvironmentWaterEdwards Aquifer Authority, endangered species, Robert Gulley, water, water conservation
Water Committee Chair Mike Albach, General Manager of Laguna Water, invited Dr. Robert Gulley, Program Manager for the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program (EARIP), and The Chamber Representative for the EARIP, Mary Q. Kelly, attorney with the Gardner Law Firm, to brief the committee on the current EARIP proposal.
â€œToday was a very significant day,â€ EARIP program manager Robert Gulley said Thursday. â€œWe have been at an impasse over the funding issue for more than seven months, and today we resolved that issue by consensuses in which all parties made concessions. ...
To conclude the Water Committee meeting, Chairman Albach invited Dr. Robert Gulley, EARIP Program Manager, to provide an update on where things stand with the financing plans for the â€œBottom Upâ€ implementation package, since legislation to support their original plan of a broad based sales tax died.
According to Gulley, the group is looking for a different approach of determining cost allocation, and at the same time, scrubbing the â€œBottom Upâ€ package to ensure it is the most cost-effective plan.
In the meantime, they are re-evaluating costs and shifting their focus on the impact of adjustments in aquifer management fees pumping cuts.
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