Shafter silver mine water discharge concerns neighbors
By ALBERTO TOMAS HALPERN
PRESIDIO COUNTY – Cibolo Creek Ranch owner John B. Poindexter fired the first shot Wednesday in what may become a new water war in Presidio County.
Speaking at a Presidio County Underground Water Conservation District meeting in Marfa, Poindexter voiced concern at the Rio Grande Mining Company’s discharge of water from its well.
He told water conservation board members that, speaking on behalf of a group of concerned landowners in the vicinity of the Shafter silver mine, “We are highly concerned by the mine administration’s announced plan to void approximately one million gallons of water per day into a dry arroyo. This is an infamous proposal in an arid region like ours.”
The Cibolo Creek ranch resort is located near Shafter and the mine.
Poindexter said that the property owners’ attorney, Drew Miller, and James Beach, an engineer with engineering firm LBG Guyton Associates, proposed developing and offering to Rio Grande Mining Company a proposal to analyze the potential effects of the silver mine’s withdrawal of such a large amount of water. The miners, Poindexter said, rejected the proposal.
He also said that he had met with Lenic Rodriguez, CEO of Aurcana Corporation, the parent company of Rio Grande Mining, to express his misgivings and that Rodriguez “professed to be surprised by our concerns and while he promised further communication on the subject, none of significance has transpired.”
Poindexter suggested that as the mining company begins to receive an abundance of funds for the resource being extracted, that they engineer other means of mining, “which may not – do not – rely upon massive discharges of water from the mine site.”
The resort landowner added, “The existing plans of Rio Grande Mining Company amount to simple and naked exploitation of a lucrative mineral resource without exercising a proper duty of care regarding our most important environmental asset in the Big Bend, water.”
Citing limited recharge rates of underground water, Poindexter said he feared that creeks, springs and water tables would dry up as a result of the water discharged by the silver mine, severely impacting wildlife, vegetation, people and their livelihoods if the mine were to extract up to 365 million gallons a year.
He referenced the mine’s feasibility study and discharge permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for the amount of water proposed to be discharged.
While saying that he and his fellow land neighbors are in no way opposed to the mining company’s operation of the mine, “We seek the regulation of groundwater production and the reduction of net discharges to levels that are determined to be safe and reasonable based upon competent studies of the geology and underground water resources for our county.”
One suggestion he offered was to recharge the water so as not to affect mining operations.
Board members Jim Mustard, Patt Sims, Jack Wood, and Carlos Nieto and district manger Rudy Garcia thanked Poindexter for his comments and moved on to other business. Board member David Williams was absent.
Contacted Wednesday, a Rio Grande Mining Company spokesman said he preferred not to comment over the telephone, but rather discuss the matter in person.
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