Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Groundwater district schedules public hearing on waste rule

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Editor's Note: The letter below was sent out to citizens today courtesy of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District. The proposed rule it addresses was discussed, generally, at a recent lively board meeting and public hearing over Aqua Texas' groundwater pumping permit.

Aqua, we all recall, was instructed to report back to the district with a plan to cut back on its very large and chronic water losses within 60 days. That public hearing was held July 9.
The groundwater district is asking citizens for their comments on the proposed rule. It would apply to all retail water providers. Please be constructive. Their web site is Telephone 512.858.9253.

Also of note, the district wants to hear directly from people whose wells have gone dry or have had work done to alter their wells. The information is being used only to track the effects of the drought across the district. Dry wells, we are hearing, and lowering of pumps, is spreading at a pretty good clip. Meanwhile, keep those good wishes going for rain. Some are saying the mass blossoming of purple sage of late could mean a drought buster is on its way.

August 10, 2009

Dear HTGCD Stakeholder,

To address public concerns regarding the waste of groundwater, the HTGCD is proposing a revision to District Rule 9 to address the waste of groundwater through unaccounted for loss, commonly known as line loss. Below is a draft of the revised rule. The draft will be discussed at the upcoming board meeting on Aug. 20. The draft rule is scheduled for public hearing and possible adoption at the September board meeting, tentatively scheduled for September 10. The public is welcome to provide comments at either meeting or submit comments in writing prior to the September meeting.


A. Groundwater may not be produced within the District in such a manner as to constitute waste. In the event of a conflict between "Beneficial Purpose" and "Waste," "Beneficial Purpose" shall be subordinate to "Waste." Producing groundwater for a beneficial purpose but in amounts in excess of the amount reasonably needed for that beneficial use or beneficial purpose is wasteful and prohibited.

B. A retail water utility shall account for at least 85% of all groundwater produced. Each retail water utility shall compare the amount of groundwater pumped to the amount of water sold, and if the sixty-day rolling average of unaccounted-for water exceeds 15% of the total water pumped that retail water utility must, within 60 days, submit to the District an Action Plan detailing the methods for bringing the system back into compliance. Action plans must include specific operational or repair activities, a commitment to fund the activities and a timetable. The District will review and either accept the Action Plan or return it with comments. A returned Action Plan must be resubmitted within 60 days. Action Plans must provide for a reduction of at least 50% of the unaccounted-for water in the first year, and the remaining 50% in the second year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The HTGCD meeting on the 20th was shorter than their usual 4 to 5 hour ordeals. This meeting kept to the agenda better than most due to President Doug Wierman’s parliamentary control. The main topic was the reading and discussing the proposed Rule 9. The language of the rule occupied the most time with some discussion of the choice of “shall” or “may” in paragraph A. Overall the rule seemed to sit well with those that chose to comment. Certain definitions of terms got some attention particularly “Waste” , “Unaccounted-for”, and "Beneficial Purpose".

A question was asked as to what real punishment will be given to violators of the rule except just more paperwork. Doug Wierman said that he and Andrew Backus who was not present were discussing levying fines for the most egregious violators.

When the subject of water waste comes up the discussion always gets around to our old friends, Aqua-Texas and their infamous and mysterious 80,000,000 gallons loss per year in Woodcreek phase I and II, for which no one can account. Brent Reeh of Aqua-Texas was present but did not speak about Rule 9 except to complain that no one sent him a copy. Jim McMeans of C.A.R.D. spoke in favor of the rule and about Aqua-Texas’ transgressions and demanded that the board fix the problem.

Superintendent Dwain York of the Wimberley Independent School District talked about the new elementary school not having been built with a rainwater harvesting system and the huge amount of grass and the watering of such that has been complained of by citizens of the district. His explanations were for the most part received with rolling eyes. He looked tired and obviously misspoke when he said that he found out about the drought in July. When he talked about erosion being a big problem at the school, gasps were heard in the audience. The erosion is likely due to all the hundreds of sprinklers running zone by zone 24/7. Less than 1 inch of rain has fallen at the school in the last 90 days.