Saturday, August 22, 2009

Groundwater district hears from citizens on water waste rule

Send your comments and news tips to or to the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District. You can read the comments or add your own by clicking on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story.

Photo courtesy
Update, Tuesday, Aug. 25: Back to school at the new Jacob's Well Elementary . . . the sprinklers were on full throttle, and running off onto the driveway. We wonder, would the HTGCD consider this a waste of our drinking water?

Update, Monday Aug. 24: The HTGCD has scheduled a public hearing on its water waste rule Thursday, Sept. 17, 5 p.m. at Dripping Springs City Hall. The public hearing also will include consideration of three water permits and several notice of violations. From the district, we are informed that three of its "canary" monitoring wells – Mt. Baldy, a second Wimberley Water Supply well, and at Henly Baptist Church – were showing drops of 20 to 30 feet at last check. These are some of the steepest drops in ten years and since the 2006 drought. Some good news . . . public water suppliers in our western hills have scaled back their pumping amounts around 17%, but are still far short of the preferred 30%.

Editor's Note:
We received the dispatch below from an alert citizen who is clearly interested in the wellbeing of our aquifer and groundwater supply. The RoundUp did not attend the Aug. 20 board meeting.
We appreciate the sharing of this news update and will be checking on its accuracy. The biggest agenda item was the district's retooling of its groundwater waste Rule #9. Scroll down about 7 stories and you can read the proposed rule. All citizens residing within the groundwater district are being encouraged to send in their comments.

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 phases 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.
Jacobs Well Elementary/Aug. 22, 2009
Superintendent Dwain York of the Wimberley Independent School District talked about the new elementary school not having been built with a rainwater harvesting system (a partial system is in place at the school but without storage) 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 (York) 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.

Two quick points: The RoundUp has not received any verification that Mr. York made such a statement about becoming aware of the drought in July. One attendee recalls being "surprised" by a similar sounding admission by York. We're checking on a transcript.

. . . and, a thunder storm in June reportedly washed away considerable hydro mulching from the school grounds, which forced the school district to start the grass seeding all over again – a big financial hit. A fair amount of sod, we are informed, was donated.


Anonymous said...

I do hope HTGCD holds Aqua Texas accountable for their incredibly wasteful practices. I wish to let the HTGCD Board know that according to sources at the TCEQ any fine levied can be passed on to their customers (Make no mistake Aqua Texas will just pass it on to their customers without giving it a second thought). The source at TCEQ stated that any levy should be called a "penalty". According to the TCEQ source penalties cannot be passed on to the customer. So, I would hope the HTGCD will make certain that this is the case and then hit Aqua Texas hard with penalties. Thanks to all the hardworking members of the HTGCD board and their staff. They have done an amazing job!

Anonymous said...

Is anybody going to write up York and the school district for what sounds like excessive waste of groundwater and poor planning? Wow, erosion from continuous watering! I hope it ain't so.

Anonymous said...

An enterprising person might ask for a look at the district's water supply contract with Aqua. See if there are any prohibitions against rainwater collection. Same for anybody else who builds a home in the surrounding Wimberley Springs Partners subdivision.

Anonymous said...

Superintendent York doesn’t seem to think they have a prohibition clause in their contract. Before the 8/20 meeting started, he told members of the HTGCD that he is trying to figure a way to add rainwater collection in the near future. He also mentioned that a new bond issue might be necessary to cover the cost. BOHICA!

Super Obvious Drought said...

What kind of superintendent of our educational system becomes aware of the next to worst drought in Central Texas in 50 years, in July!!?

If true, I would say that, as our little valley's top educator, he is Remarkably Ignorant. Or he must be too busy to notice the ecosystem that surrounds us all.

He should go out and take a close look now and again and report back to his students what he has discovered.

inglorious mustard said...

I find it refreshing that we have a superintendent like Duane York, who already looks tired before the school year has begun. It's also nice to see his positive assessment of our area; if we admit that the drought only began a month ago, it really should make us all feel more optimistic.

When that grass gets grown out, it will put people to work, because it's going to have to be mowed, edged and leafblown regularly.

I'm sure Mr. York has studied rain water collection systems, and knows its cost will neccesitate the need for another bond election.

I'm going to the copy shop and have the irrigation photo blown up to a 24" x 36" print, and put it on my wall. I'll title it "The drought; it all began in July of '09".

Anonymous said...

Let's call it the WISD Community Leadership Council, staffed by a rubber stamp School Board and out of touch administrators. They wore us down with all the bond issues; now they make us pay for poor water management planning. Don't these educational wizards know about xeriscaping? I'm surprised WISD isn't asking for another bond issue so they can surround the new school with Astroturf. That would save water. Great example for their own students.

Don said...

Did anyone see what a mess of traffic jams occurred at the Elementary School yesterday? My neighbor said the traffic was backed up to Valley Springs Rd. and took almost an hour to get through the jam and to the school. The law enforcement troops tried to get everyone over to the shoulder so through traffic could proceed. No report of flat tires or other damage usually associated with the narrow, rough shoulders out there.

This is further proof that the W.I.S.D. is not ready for prime time. This school has been poorly planed and executed from the get-go. The 2 lane entrance/exit is a jam in itself, since when both directions of traffic are present the exiting cars and busses have no right turn or left turn lane. The service entrance on the east side of the school needs to be used as an entrance and widened. The present entrance /exit should be converted to an exit only.

I hope everyone will remember all this at the next Bond and/or School Board election.

Anonymous said...

“(a partial system is in place at the school but without storage)”

Superintendent York probably thinks gutters and down spouts make a “partial system”. That is a very misleading statement. I have been over to the school several times in the last few weeks and I’ve seen nothing there that would qualify as rainwater harvesting unless you count rainwater running down the down spouts and then out onto the ground.

r. mondavi said...

So we're hearing that the district's budget for the elementary school is red-lining, and a fully installed rainwater system is probably not affordable without some financial assistance. I think we'll be hearing more on this one.

Don said...

If the district couldn’t build an Elementary School for $14 million and include a rainwater harvesting system along with xeriscape they should all step down. This shell game they are playing about rainwater harvesting is shameful. Every time they are asked about it they give a different answer. Stating that there is a “partial system” at the school because there are gutters and downspouts would be laughable if it weren’t such a boldfaced lie.

Charles O'Dell said...

Our local Groundwater Conservation District has been short changed from its inception in 2000, when Rep. Rick Green, with support from Hays County Commissioners' Court, intentionally introduced a weak bill creating a local groundwater district mandated by the state legislature.

Our local groundwater district is the ONLY governmental agency in Hays County protecting well owners from the Rule of Capture and depletion of the Trinity Aquifer.

And that is exactly why local elected officials continue to keep their boots pressed against the HTGCD's neck by withholding the intended authority contained in Chapter 36 of the Texas Water Code.

Property owners whose wells have gone dry can thank Rep. Patrick Rose and members of Hays County Commissioners' Court for opposing all efforts to give our local groundwater conservation district the necessary authority that 90 other conservation districts have and exercise responsibly to preserve, protect and equitably share limited groundwater.

When wells that have survived droughts of the past fifty years now go dry in record numbers, we need only look at how our locally elected officials have fiercely opposed the one organization intended by the state legislature to protect our wells.

Our well and the wells of several of our neighbors have recently gone dry. Thank you Rep. Patrick Rose. We will remember your ill treatment of our local groundwater conservation district when we go to the polls next year.