Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program permit approved
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has approved the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program’s (EARIP) Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and incidental take permit. The notice of availability of the final Environmental Impact Statement and an incidental take permit for the EARIP, including the HCP, was published in the Feb. 15 Federal Register.
The EARIP’s HCP is the result of a consensus-based, collaborative effort by a stakeholder group of more than 40 organizations and individuals to address the conservation needs of eight listed species and needs of the communities dependent upon the Edwards Aquifer. Issuance of the incidental take permit will enable the applicants—the Edwards Aquifer Authority, San Antonio Water Systems, New Braunfels, San Marcos and Texas State University—to continue their projects and operations, while preserving protected species and their habitat, according to FWS.
“Approval of the EARIP’s HCP marks a significant conservation achievement for the Edwards Aquifer region,” said FWS Southwest Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle. “The organizations and individuals involved in the development of the HCP clearly demonstrated that it is possible to come together and develop a consensus-based solution to a very complex water issue in Texas.”
The approved incidental take permit covers activities that would occur in Bexar, Medina and Uvalde counties and portions of Atascosa, Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays counties. The HCP describes measures the applicants agreed to undertake to minimize and mitigate the effects of incidental take of the following federally listed species dependent on the springs and river systems associated with the Edwards Aquifer: the fountain darter, San Marcos salamander, Texas wild rice, Texas blind salamander, Peck's cave amphipod, San Marcos gambusia, Comal Springs dryopid beetle and the Comal Springs riffle beetle.
Read the recent article in Texas Water Journal‘s Volume 4, Number 1 issue and the Fall 2012 txH2O article for background information on the EARIP and the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources’ involvement with the effort. Read the full FWS news release for more information, or visit the HCP website.