BURLESON COUNTY, Texas – Andy Hovorak, a fourth a generation Burleson County landowner, has made it clear that he opposes the Vista Ridge pipeline project.
"I’m going make every effort I can to kill it,” Hovorak said.
The Vista Ridge pipeline, with an expected completion in 2020, will transport groundwater 142 miles from water wells in Burleson County to San Antonio.
"I don’t understand why we should have this water leave and go hundred some odd miles across the state of Texas to another region to water golf courses, to waste water,” Hovorak said. "Most of the people in Burleson County have the stance that they're opposed to the Vista Ridge project."
San Antonio Water System disagrees.
"We think there's actually a lot of support in Burleson County and really throughout the region,” said Donovan Burton, vice president of Water Resources, Conservation and Governmental Resources at SAWS.
More than 1,000 landowners have willingly signed over their leases.
"We think there are a lot of silent majority that are not only in favor of it, but involved in the project,” Burton said.
According to Hovorak, many small landowners did sign on, but they account, he said, for only 15 percent of the land area in Burleson County.
"It makes it look like it's more landowner support than it actually is," said Hovorak.
Signs with the statement, "I oppose the San Antone hose" can be found, periodically, along Highway 21, a major thoroughfare in the county. The largest issue for the opposition has been with the amount of water expected to be pumped out. Fifty thousand acre-feet of water is projected to leave the county annually, equating to around 31,000 gallons per minute.
"I don’t have a problem with some water leaving Burleson County. I understand the need for sharing with others, but, also, we have to take care of ourselves first,” Hovorak said.
The Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District currently regulates groundwater in the area. Meanwhile, computer models show the vast Carrizo and Simsboro aquifers to be a plentiful water source, even with the pipeline, for decades to come.
"It would be impossible to drain that aquifer,” Burton said.
Still, Hovorak said there is far too much uncertainly, especially considering it is a rather untapped aquifer. He believes more research is needed before such a large amount of water is pumped out.
"I’m not willing to live with that. I’m going to fight,” Hovorak said.