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Local residents oppose new rock mining facility

Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 8:23 PM CST
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SALADO, Texas (KWTX)-- Salado residents are protesting a rock mining operation opening in southwest Salado.

The company running the facility is Victory Rocks, a company with similar rock quarries and mining operations across the state and country.

The new rock quarry in Salado is located off Solana Ranch Road-- a rural area where the residents rely on groundwater for their daily needs such as drinking, bathing and watering livestock.

The residents, like Marcus Edwards said with water resources already low, they believe the Victory Rock Quarry is a threat to their quality of life.

“I have concerns about the air quality, the environmental aspect of this and we have concerns about the ground water,” Edwards said. “Victory Rock just haven’t been good neighbors, he said”.

A group of residents attended a virtual meeting Wednesday where the Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District(CUWCD) discussed the issue.

CUWCD is the agency responsible for regulating underground water in Bell County.

The ground water exists in three layers called the upper, middle and lower aquifer trinities. The middle aquifer trinity is the most used and is the layer of water used by residents.

Victory Rock initially requested a permit from CUWD to pump water from the same middle aquifer trinity. However, CUWCD asked them to resubmit a new permit request to pump from the lower aquifer trinity. The lower aquifer is less used and most expensive to retrieve water from.

“We continue to make sound decisions based on scientific discernment and nothing more,” said Dirk Aaron, the general manager of CUWD.

Aaron said although CUWD is doing its best to protect the rights of both the residents and Victory Rock, he believes the residents are asking for more than CUWD has the power to control.

“The resident are saying ‘please deny their permit for groundwater use because we don’t want a sand and gravel mine in our backyard,’” Aaron explained. “We are not allowed to deliberate in those, that would be arbitrary,” he said.

Victory Rock has leased the land. Aaron said overstepping the bounds of the CUWD by completely denying a permit to Victory Rock would give the landowner to sue.

The residents are taking their frustrations to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality(TCEQ) which is still considering granting an air quality permit to Victory Rock.

Edwards and other resident said they plan to attend the TCEQ meeting on March 29th at 7p.m. to oppose the granting of the air quality permit.

The air quality permit and the water permit are connected because much of the water Victory Rock would pump would be used to reduce the dust created by the rock crushing.

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