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POINT COMFORT, Texas The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has issued a draft water use permit to the Lavaca Navidad River Authority (LNRA) to construct an off-channel reservoir on the property of Formosa Plastics. The permit would facilitate a future expansion at Formosa’s Point Comfort facility and allow the LNRA to divert up to 96,022 acre-feet of water from the Lavaca River every year — the equivalent to more than 31 billion gallons of freshwater removed from the river system.

Local fishing communities and environmental groups are concerned the Matagorda Bay system, which spans approximately 352 square miles, will be impacted by yet another destructive industrial attempt at removing fresh water inflow and increasing salinity in the bay. This environmentally sensitive area is important not only as an ecological resource, but also supports economically significant fisheries.

“For the sake of the health of Matagorda Bay and our fishing communities, it’s vital we stop the onslaught of plastic pollution,” said Diane Wilson, a fourth-generation shrimper and executive director of San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper. “We should not allow more damage to the bay nor allow avenues for Formosa Plastics to expand their plastic heart any further. Enough is enough.”

In addition to those impacts, the nearby Formosa Plastics facility has a record of ongoing plastic pollution discharge into Lavaca Bay. In 2019, Formosa Plastics was fined $50 million in the largest Clean Water Act citizen suit in U.S. history. As part of the settlement, Formosa Plastics agreed to zero discharge of plastic from the facility. Since June 2021, however, they’ve faced 579 violations and have been fined over $15 million. Currently, their penalties are more than $1 million per month. 

The plant has been the site of a recent 30-day hunger strike and months-long encampment led by Diane Wilson of San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper and the International Monitor Formosa Plastics Alliance.

During the public comment period, members of the public may contact TCEQ to voice opinions on the issue. To make a public comment and/or request a public meeting, visit https://www14.tceq.texas.gov/epic/eComment/ and enter WRPERM 13728.