DOE meets with owners of illegal dams at Barton Creek

For over the past few weeks we have been reporting on the construction of an apparently illegal micro hydro or water mills in the Barton Creek Area, very close to the Barton Creek Cave. We took the information to the Department of the Environment who sent at team there to investigate the reports. After that, the department had discussions with the two owners, Mike Bougart and Ian Anderson, to listen to their side of the story.

At the conclusion of their preliminary inquiries, here is what is what the Department has gathered.

.

vlcsnap-2015-01-13-05h28m35s120vlcsnap-2015-01-13-05h24m28s235Anthony  Mai – Head of Environmental Compliance Unit, DOE

“At this point we’ve determined that they cannot show any proof that they have permission from any Government agencies for these structures.  We’ll be conducting a joint inspection this week, and then when we come back we’ll sit as a group and decide what we will do, and we’ll look at these type of issues.

We need to [know] how long they’ve had ownership of the property, and how long these structures [have been] there, and to see if they are the legally responsible persons for that.  Bu, in any case, all of these things should be ironed out during the joint meeting and the discussions with other agencies.

They are willing to work with us.  They recognize that there regulations with regard to these particular type of  structures, and since they are willing to work with us in terms of trying to understand exactly what has taken place, and they are willing to work with us in terms of moving forward with these structures.”

.

Anthony Mai,, explained to us the regular procedure of attaining an environment clearance from the Department.

.

Anthony  Mai

“For something like this whenever you want to use water resources, there are legal permits and approval that you need to obtain from the Department of the Environment. It’s an environment interference. That [means] you’ve been granting permission from the Department of the Environment to use the natural resources, and use it in a sustainable way.

What they should have done is to come into the Department, [and] provide us with a description of exactly what it is whey want to do.  They have a unit dedicated evaluating projects, and so that unit would have screened it, evaluated it, and then move forward with it. 

At the end of the day, if the negative impacts to the environment would be low, and the positive outcome of it would be high, then the Department would say to you to go ahead and construct the structures, but you have to do it in this way.

We grant clearance or approval but they’re certain conditions, so that when you implement the conditions, you’re be reducing the negative impact on the environment.”

.

The Department could not tell us what disciplinary actions, if any, will be taken against the owners of the two structures as they are yet to meet with the multifaceted body next week to discuss the way forward.

.

Anthony  Mai

“The Department of the Environment is always here, looking after environmental  related issues. If anyone in the general public has information about any type of structures related to a micro-hydro within their area, and would like to notify us of that, you can definitely call in.

The ones that are operating in somewhat of an environmentally-friendly way, we could probably allow some of the structures to remain, but still it’s something that we need to know first where they are, and then we need to evaluate them and see what we’ll do with them.”

.

About the Author