Legislative Goals Re: Sand Mining

  1. Establish a water quality district on the San Jacinto like the John Graves District on the Brazos.
    • Key Provision #1: Moves mining outside the 100-year flood plain as permits come up for renewal.
    • Why? Mining in floodway can accelerate sedimentation far above the natural rate. Sediment accumulations form dams that block river and contribute to flooding.
    • Key Provision #2: Establishes performance bonds to ensure reclamation.
    • Why? Some miners walk away from mines before reclamation, creating eyesores and safety hazards that discourage development in surrounding communities.
  2. Put teeth in TCEQ fines.
    • Key Provision: Increases fines to the point where they actually discourage negative practices.
    • Why? Current fines are slap on wrist. Average fine for last 7 years was about $800. Has not cleaned up industry.
  3. Bring best management practices for sand mining in Texas up to the standards in the rest of the country and the world.
    • Key Provisions:
      1. Locate mines outside of floodways. (Most important)
      2. Establish performance bonds to cover the cost of cleanup.
      3. Increase the width of dikes.
      4. Decrease the slope of dikes.
      5. Control erosion with vegetation.
      6. Replant areas not actively being mined.
      7. Avoid clearing areas that will not soon be mined.
      8. Protect stockpiles from flooding.
      9. Mine only above the thalweg (deepest part of the river).
      10. Establish performance bonds to guarantee remediation of breaches and/or repurposing of mined areas once mining is complete
    • Why? The practices where we lag the rest of the world caused the most damage during Harvey.

Fact Sheets (Some still in Development)

  • Overview – How Sand Mines Exacerbate Flooding
  • Lake Houston Area Damages
  • Improving Best Management Practices
  • Dangers of River Mining
  • River Migration, Pit Capture, and Erosion Hazard Zones
  • John Graves District: A Model for the Future of the San Jacinto
  • Importance of Vegetation in Reducing Erosion
  • Is There Enough Sand Outside the Floodway?
  • Economic Development Not Linked to Location of Sand Mines
  • Underappraisal of Sand Mine Properties in Montgomery County

Proposed Legislation

HB509 Allows Texas Railroad Commission to regulate APOs with TCEQ. Requires: hydrologic impact study, public notice, public hearings, and provides fines up to $10,000 and 1-year in jail for false statements.

HB 907 Doubles the penalties for not registering a sand mining operation. New penalties can range from $10,000 to $20,000 per year with the total not to exceed $50,000.

HB 908 Provides for penalties up to $50,000 for water code violations and every-other-year inspections.

HB 909 Calls for the TCEQ to adopt and publish best management practices for sand mines (aggregate production operations) that comply with applicable environmental laws and regulations.

Status Tracker

HB509 Filed Dec. 11, 2018

HB 907 Filed Jan. 17, 2019

HB 908 Filed Jan. 17, 2019

HB 909 Filed Jan. 17, 2019

Posts About Legislative Needs

Two Dozen Pieces of Legislation Introduced to Help Prevent Another Disaster like Harvey

While I have primarily focused on legislation around sand mining, legislators in both the Texas House and Senate have filed bills that address other aspects of the Harvey disaster. I have arbitrarily grouped them into several categories below to make this rather lengthy list easier to follow. Preparedness Remember how residents received no warning to […]

Huberty Introduces HB1671 To Extend Water-Quality Protections to West Fork

State Representative Dan Huberty introduced House Bill 1671 this week. It amends Section 26.551 of the Water Code to give the West Fork of the San Jacinto protections enjoyed by the John Graves Scenic District on the Brazos as a result of a pilot program started in 2005. The bill covers the portion of the […]

Sand Miners Plan TACA Days in Austin for February 4th, 5th

Sand miners plan to gather in Austin on February 4th and 5th to meet with legislators for their annual TACA Days. TACA stands for the Texas Aggregate and Concrete Association. It represents sand miners. They hope  to beat back regulation of the industry that could help protect areas like Lake Houston from excessive sedimentation. They […]

Three Baby Steps on Sand Mining Legislation

After Harvey, it became clear that the simplest and most effective way to avoid sedimentation due to sand mining, was to prevent any new sand mining in the floodway. State Representative Dan Huberty introduced three new bills to toughen legislation on sand mines yesterday. But these bills never mention words like river, setback, buffer zone, […]

First Proposal to Improve Sand-Mine Regulation in House

On December 11, 2018, Texas State Representative Terry Wilson introduced HB509. HB509 is a bill to regulate aggregate production operations (APOs). APOs include sand mines. HB509 Stipulates Consideration of Hydrologic Impact During Permitting Currently, sand mines in Texas are permitted and inspected by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). HB509 enables the Texas Railroad […]

How Sand Mines Increased Erosion Potential by 33X During Harvey

Yesterday, I posted about how major storms transport the vast majority of the sediment that flushes down rivers. That’s a major reason to have wide buffers between mines and rivers, and to get the mines out of the floodway. One major event, as we have seen, can alter a river and people’s lives forever. However, […]

Picture by June Ledet of Harvey flooding in Kingwood corner of Kingwood Drive and Forest Garden

99% Solutions to a 1% Problem Are No Solutions at All

Today, I read a scientific article that talked about 99% solutions to 1% problems. It hit me between the eyes with the force of a freight train. It was written 30 years before Hurricane Harvey for a 1987 symposium sponsored by the U.S. Navy called Sedimentation Control to Reduce Maintenance Dredging of Navigational Facilities in Estuaries. […]

How to Protect Yourself from Flooding Due to Sand Mining

It’s hard for me to write this because I hate government regulation. But when an industry acts so irresponsibly in the pursuit of profit that it endangers my safety, my family, my property, and my community, I will fight to regulate it. I am at that point now with the Texas Aggregate and Concrete Association, […]