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Service Signs Letters to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to Simplify Endangered Species Compliance
Southwest Region, September 4, 2007
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Dr. Benjamin N. Tuggle, Regional Director, signed two separate letters to the Governor of Texas and the Executive Director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) concurring with two documents that provide for a “one-stop shopping” option for land development over the Edwards Aquifer. Under the program, if optional enhanced groundwater quality protection measures and guidelines for the TCEQ's Edwards Aquifer Protection Program are voluntarily followed by the developer, “no take” of certain federally listed endangered species from potential water quality impacts associated with land development would occur.  

One document addresses five species that live in the springs that issue from the Edwards Aquifer in an eight county area (Appendix A), and the other addresses 17 species that live in the caves and Edwards Aquifer recharge areas in Bexar, Travis, and Williamson counties (Appendix B). Non-Federal landowners and other non-Federal managers using the practices contained in these documents would have the support of the Service that no “take” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) would occur.  With that support, there would is no need to get separate approval from the Service for the effects to those species prior to developing the land.

This concurrence is not a delegation of the Service's responsibilities under the ESA, but rather an acknowledgement that the TCEQ's Edwards Aquifer Protection Program, with these enhanced water quality measures, addresses known water quality threats to the covered species. Under the ESA, it is the responsibility of the developer to determine the potential for impacting endangered species and take appropriate action based upon this information. The optional measures contained in these two documents are designed to enhance the protection of the species by providing for a higher level of water quality protection and can be used by those who wish to avoid harming listed species from water quality impacts. It is the responsibility of the developer to determine whether the optional water quality measures and best management practices described in these documents are appropriate for their project and submit them to TCEQ as part of their development plan.

Appendix A is revised from a predecessor document that was approved by the Service on February 14, 2005. It describes (1) the process and requirements for implementing the optional enhanced measures and best management practices (BMPs), (2) the site development planning process and the need for a Geological Assessment early in the project development phase, (3) the BMPs that are required to protect the quality of water which enters the aquifer, (4) the requirements for capturing hazardous material spills along highways, (5) the requirements for storm water sediment catch basins used to manage both during construction and post construction runoff from developed areas,  (6) the requirements for managing runoff volume to prevent stream channel erosion, and (7) additional maintenance requirements for the best management practices.

Appendix B is a new document.  It describes (1) the process and requirements for implementing the optional enhanced measures and BMPs; (2) the site development planning process and the need for a Geological Assessment early in the project development phase to identify aquifer recharge features which serve as potential species habitat; and (3) the BMPs and measures to be implemented to protect the water quality entering the aquifer through recharge features and potential species habitat, which include allowed and prohibited activities adjacent to the feature, determining the extent and setting up setback buffers around the feature, protection of the recharge feature surface opening, and dealing with potential features and habitat discovered during construction; and (4) developing and implementing a maintenance plan for a buffer zone.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov



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