Texas Rivers is a force to be reckoned with –
- At river clean ups across the state, we have removed tons upon tons of trash from Texas rivers.
- Through negotiations and legal remedies, we have helped cities and private entities make better decisions regarding stream pollution.
- We have helped improve public access to our rivers through negotiations with DOT, TPWD and with private landowners.
- TRPA opposes direct discharge of effluent into Hill Country streams and we advocate for alternative, on-site treatment options.
- TRPA has encouraged compliance from numerous developers with local and state water quality protection regulations; and helped defeat state legislation aimed at reducing local authority to adopt and enforce environmental regulations.
Some TRPA History: The Texas Rivers Protection Association was incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization in December of 1989. At that time the main purpose of the organization was to work for the passage of the Texas Rivers Protection Act “which would create a Texas Rivers Protection System, designate certain river segments for immediate inclusion, and establish a mechanism for future designations”. Since our primary goal was to work for the passage of legislation, we did not seek tax exempt status. After attempting to pass this legislation for several years (we passed the Senate several times, but got stopped in the House), we finally decided to spend our energy protecting Texas Rivers in other ways. So, in the Spring of 2004, we amended our bylaws and filed for 501(c)(3) status. We received our letter from the IRS granting us such status dated May 17, 2004.
- Since its inception, TRPA has fought bad water rights permits (for instance, a permit for water from the Guadalupe River above Canyon Lake for a golf course which had woefully inadequate minimum flow standards). We have fought for the best possible water quality standards for sewage treatment plants in Kerrville, San Marcos, and Castroville (to name a few towns). And, the threat of TRPA asking for a contested case hearing has caused more than a few towns to build quality treatment plants voluntarily.
- Our biggest and most expensive water rights battle occurred in 1992 and 1993, when the Upper Guadalupe River Authority applied for a large water right out of the Guadalupe River in Kerrville. That water was to be chlorinated, then injected underground into the Trinity Aquifer to be pumped out later. But, there are some real concerns, first of all in pumping chlorinated water into a karst aquifer (carcinogens have been known to form) and secondly, while river water is protected as surface water (and the pumping of surface water requires a permit) underground water is subject to the right of capture. Our attorney, Bill Bunch (SOS Alliance) served tirelessly (and for much less money than he was worth) and, while we did not completely stop the ill advised plan, we did get some genuine minimum stream flows and some real protection for the river.
- In 2001, TRPA teamed up with paddlers all over the state and spearheaded an effort to purchase river access at Hidalgo Falls on the Brazos River. There had been a campground at the falls for many years, but the campground owner had passed away and the family was planning to close the camp. We raised over $100,000 over the next few years to purchase land and to build restrooms there. Now this historic site is protected for future generations, and it can be used by first responders as a swiftwater training site. And, of course, canoeists and kayakers have access to the river there.
- In 2005, a company in Center Point, on the Upper Guadalupe, began construction on a very noisy rock crusher, however, they had not procured an air quality permit from the TCEQ. TRPA met with the citizens of Center Point and agreed to spearhead the battle against that permit. Thousands of dollars later, the company withdrew their application for the permit and, at least for now, the rock crusher is not operating.
- Also in 2011, TRPA began contributing money to the Friends of the Brazos River so they could fight a water rights permit for which the Brazos River Authority had applied. Over the next few years, TRPA contributed over $35,000 to this cause. And, the Friends of the Brazos was successful in lowering the amounts of water permitted, and in guaranteeing minimum instream flows.
- In 2011 and 2013, TRPA had several members serving on the Devil’s River Working Group, which was tasked with trying to resolve the problems between river users and landowners on the Devil’s River. This was especially important because the TPWD had recently acquired the Devil’s River Ranch and also owned the San Pedro unit upstream. We were helpful in resolving some of these conflicts and made suggestions that perhaps the landowners could work with TPWD to decide on some campsites that would be acceptable for boaters to use. Since that time, and with the help of the TPWD Fishing Access Lease program, several additional paddler campsites are now available to boaters.
- Also, in 2016, for some of the same reasons discussed above, TRPA voted to join in funding a nuisance lawsuit that had been filed against the two large tubing outfitters on the San Marcos River that were causing the lion’s share of the problems. The judge in that case was very helpful, and we were able to get a very helpful agreed order with these two tubing companies. If the two outfitters would follow all of the conditions that they agreed to follow the river would be a much safer place. Unfortunately, they do not follow those conditions very well. And, it seems that, unless the abuse of alcohol is curtailed, there will always be serious problems.