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Board Member of Brewster County Groundwater District Arrested on Trespassing Charge

Brewster County Sheriff's deputies respond to a scene at the Alpine staging site for the Trans-Pecos Pipeline (Chris Sweeney)

This is a developing story. We will update this post with information as we receive it.

Brewster County rancher and board member of the Brewster County Groundwater Conservation District Tom Beard was arrested Thursday afternoon on a charge of criminal trespass at the Alpine staging site for the planned Trans-Pecos Pipeline.

In video of the arrest captured by Texas Aerial Photography, a county sheriff’s deputy can be heard saying “you're putting me in a bad position - I didn’t want to do this.”

Beard was taken into custody around 2 p.m. and was released on personal recognizance just after 7 p.m. Thursday evening.

Big Bend Gazette reporter John Waters says the arrest came after a groundwater district meeting held earlier in the day, where board members were told by a local resident that a residential water well is located on the staging site being cleared, but is not permitted for commercial use.

Waters reports:

The board members went out in search of a supervisor that they could talk to to let them know that they need to re-permit this well.

At about noon, the supervisor, who remained unnamed, told them that they needed to leave. Beard did not want to leave, and the Brewster County Sheriff’s department arrived shortly after noon.

For almost two hours, Beard was having a discussion with a deputy about the need for the district to be given some sort of contact information, and the deputy told Beard that he had to leave the property, and if he wouldn’t leave the property he was then threatened with criminal arrest.

Beard was then reportedly given a last chance to leave the property, but refused and was placed under arrest. The Big Bend Sentinel has more details:

Conrad Arriola, the manager of the groundwater conservation district, who had left the scene prior to Beard’s arrest said of the occurrence, “We went out there to see if we could find a project manager to get information so that we could send them a letter. They’re operating a well that does not have a permit on it. We’d like them to first register the well and obtain a permit.”

He added, “If it was a residential well, even though ownership has changed, if it’s now for commercial use, they need a new permit for that.”
Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.