This morning, the TCEQ approved new Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Sand Mining in the San Jacinto Watershed. The effort to inventory, establish and publish BMPs for sand mining began shortly after Harvey. This web site contains thousands of pictures and 210 posts about area sand mine operations.
But the real credit for today’s agreement goes to:
- The Lake Houston Area Flood Prevention Initiative (FPI)
- Bill McCabe and Dave Feille (now deceased), two FPI steering committee members
- Dianne Lansden, FPI founder
- The Bayou Land Conservancy
- Bill Dupre, professor emeritus in Geology from the University of Houston
- State Representative Dan Huberty.
Others, too numerous to mention also picked up the baton and worked tirelessly for years to reach an agreement with the sand miners.
McCabe composed the short article below that describes the significance of today’s events.
History of Project
The Lake Houston Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative (FPI) formed shortly after Hurricane Harvey, led by a group of citizens concerned with the area’s future. Its goal: to seek out and remedy issues that made Harvey’s flooding more devastating than expected. Early on, one issue became evident as a major area of concern for future floods —the effect of sand mining on sediment and pollution in the San Jacinto Watershed.
We had looked at litigation, legislation and negotiation solutions as ways to address this situation. Other groups were already pursuing Litigation and Legislation. So, we decided to address the future through negotiation with the sand-mining industry.
Negotiation with TACA
We contacted the Texas Aggregates and Concrete Association (TACA), the industry representative for sand miners, and began negotiations on Best Management Practices (BMPs).
Starting with a blueprint of Best Management Practices for sand mining developed by other states, we re-formulated them to fit the Texas situation. For several months FPI, TACA, and other groups and individuals worked on a document we could present to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Many individuals, including Representative Dan Huberty, Jill Boullion with the Bayou Land Conservancy, and former City officials from Humble and Kingwood, worked with us to fine tune a document for presentation.
Because TACA and FPI could not fully agree on the requirements for sand mining BMPs in the San Jacinto River Watershed, we presented separate Petitions to TCEQ. TACA presented its on June 12, 2020. FPI presented its a week later.
Scope of Petitions
Although they differed in several key areas, both Petitions followed the same basic pattern. We focused on a three part approach: Pre-mining, Mining and Post mining.
Following submittal, TCEQ conducted a series of stakeholder meetings and public input requests. The Commission fine-tuned our proposals and developed its own Rules and Guidance Documents.
View the original Petitions and subsequent modifications on the TCEQ website. See Rulemaking: Best Management Practices for Sand Mining in the San Jacinto River Watershed – Texas Commission on Environmental Quality – www.tceq.texas.gov.
Final Approval, a Good First Step
On December 15th, TCEQ Commissioners approved the new BMP Rules document. It will become effective early next year. Although we did not get everything we would have wished for, this is a very good start and will help to hold sand miners to an accountable standard in the future.
Between the Rules Document (Subchapter J, Best Management Practices for Sand Mining Facility Operations Within the San Jacinto River Basin, Sections 311.101 – 311.103 of 30 TAC Chapter 311, Watershed Protection) and the associated Guidance Document developed by TCEQ, we now have a comprehensive standard for the sand-mining industry to follow.
By Bill McCabe on 12/15/2021
1569 Days after Hurricane Harvey