Texas to step on Houston challenge to BP water permit

houston ship channel by san jac bayCourtesy Ken Lund via Flickr.

The state will seek to deny a request from the City of Houston to challenge an industrial water permit for BP Amoco Chemical.

city of houston

BP in Texas City wants to divert 100 acre-feet of water per year along three points of the Texas City Ship Channel. The City of Houston asked for a hearing to plead its case that the water use would interfere with its municipal water rights.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will consider the staff and executive director’s request to deny the hearing at its upcoming meeting on April 27 in Austin. The state contends the city has not explained how BP’s water use would impact the city’s residents.

“In addition, the city’s concerns about freshwater inflows into Galveston Bay are common to the general public,” Executive Director Richard Hyde wrote in his response. “Regardless,british petroleum potential impact to freshwater inflows is minimal when the diversion point is tidally influenced and non-consumed water will be returned via discharge. Therefore, the City’s hearing request should be denied.”

The company wants to use water in the San JacintoBrazos coastal basin for hydrostatic testing.  The testing determines that strength of pressure vessels such as pipelines, plumbing, gas cylinders, boilers and fuel tanks. The testing can also help crews find leaks.

State attorneys further stated that the city’s water rights are not affected if the diversion takes place past the city. BP has asked to use water from three points that are about eight miles off the coast of Galveston.

“The City of Houston states that it holds multiple water rights in the San Jacinto River Basin that may be impacted by BP’s proposed permit,” Eli Martinez, staff attorney, wrote. “Although the proposed appropriation in this application is relatively small, any diversion that may impact water availability and the City of Houston’s use of its own appropriations would be sufficient to confer standing.

The state contends that a map of the City of Houston’s water rights demonstrates that the proposed diversion would take place downstream of all of Houston’s water rights.

The BP application was received on August 28, 2014 and completed on May 20, 2015. The city completed its hearing request on Sept. 30, 2015.

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