Fast-paced growth is here, with people flooding into Texas from the drought impacted western states, especially California.
Texas needs to avoid the mistakes of the “California Water Model” – massive movement of groundwater to dry areas to serve unsustainable development.On the heels of the Big Freeze energy grid failure, we know you agree that Texans cannot afford mismanagement of our water resources.
What can you do? Show up at hearings happening now, make a comment or submit a comment before they are due in your area. Help us set the course for sustainable management of our water resources.We urge citizens in five groundwater conservation districts to ask their district --- and the four other groundwater districts in Groundwater Management Area 12 (GMA-12)--- to reject the current plan to set the “desired future conditions” (DFCs) for GMA-12.
The five groundwater districts of GMA-12 are comprised of these counties: Bastrop, Lee, Burleson, Milam, Brazos, Robertson, Freestone, Madison, Leon and Fayette.DFCs are a planning tool for managing and balancing production of water with conservation of the critically important resource – the water underlying us.Technically, "DFC" are what we want our aquifers to look like in fifty year intervals in future; GMA-12 resets our DFC in rolling five-year intervals. In reality, GMA-12 is deciding how much drawdown in our aquifers we must tolerate in future.Landowner wells in rural Burleson and Lee counties are already ‘sucking air” in the first year of the 60-year Vista Ridge mega-water pipeline to San Antonio – some 142 miles away. Other mega-projects are underway on the same water resources with potential harm to our rivers and streams, including the Colorado, Brazos, Trinity and Navasota rivers.We asked you to address your concerns to all five groundwater districts in GMA-12 during the current joint planning period because we are all in this together!All of the public comment periods have closed but....
Click here for the reasons why the “proposed desired future conditions for GMA-12” need to be rejected and sent back for revision.
Click here for a handy "Desired Future Conditions 101".
Water Defender Resources
Good afternoon, Mr. Vice President and Board Members,
My name is Michele Gangnes. I am a landowner in Lee County, an attorney, and a founding board member of the Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund.
Steve Box from Environmental Stewardship covered points relevant to my comments and I will try to avoid redundancy, but some points need emphasis.
ES and SAWDF have formed a coalition under the name WaterDefenders.org, as a means of public outreach and education. For SAWDF, that also includes public advocacy.
I'm speaking to you today on behalf of SAWDF as well as on behalf of exempt well owners and landowners in Lee County, which is in the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District, and which is also a member of GMA-12.
Their request to you is to REJECT the proposed DFCs for the next five years, that the general managers of the five GMA-12 districts arbitrarily if not capriciously decided they had no choice but to impose.
There is clearly an emotional side to landowners’ reaction to the DFCs GMA-12 proposed, which you will of course recognize as well– there is a lot at stake for them. But the fact of the matter is, our assessment of the proposed DFCs as causing unreasonable impacts is absolutely correct, so I don’t believe you can dismiss us out of hand. You have some more work to do.
From the landowner perspective it would be wrong to ratify these proposed DFCs at the district level --- the proposed DFCs literally almost double the allowable drawdowns, without giving any defensible consideration to the legal requirements for setting any DFCs.
What does that mean? I think if you read Mr. Allmon’s letter for ES you will know from a legal standpoint and I don’t want to be redundant.
But what it means for landowners is that the districts in GMA-12 propose to virtually guarantee big pumpers --- pumpers with non-exempt permits -- will have carte blanche ---- no impediments at all ---to drying up hundreds of exempt domestic and livestock wells with their pumping, not to mention no impediment at all to damaging our aquifers, our communities and our rivers, springs and streams.
Why that is wrong is NOT UP TO THE PUBLIC to prove to you --- it is your duty under Texas law to adopt DFCs that will not have these unreasonable impacts and that will achieve a balance between conservation and protection of our aquifers, and development of our aquifers.
You still have time to do what the law requires you to do.
The proposed DFCs for GMA-12 protect only permit holders --- the big pumpers ---- by allowing drawdowns that allow them to pump to the limits of their permits, while local domestic and livestock wells are left high and dry --- the proposed DFCs unreasonably impact our aquifers, and they unreasonably impact exempt wells, whether wells are mitigated by a district or not; andthey unreasonably impact private property rights of landowners by diminishing a capital asset --- the water under them ---, and their agribusinesses.
You must do the work to balance the DFCs. I will just point out here that threats of litigation from Vista Ridge are not a consideration that you may lawfully use as an excuse for these DFCs.
If you require data to understand that you have not done your duty, it is available, in Lee County, because my organization SAWDF brought it to the attention of GMA-12 earlier this year and things have only gotten worse since you ignored our comments. According to the Lost Pines District’s recent projections, revealed at a public meeting in May, up to 150 Lee County Carrizo wells will be out of water at some point due to Vista Ridge’s maximum pumping in the Carrizo Aquifer.
It is also available in Burleson County, where Vista Ridge is based and the Post Oak district’s efforts to address unreasonable impacts of your proposed DFCs also fell on deaf ears at GMA-12.. As of May, Post Oak reported having mitigated 44 wells, also due to Vista Ridge’s pumping.
I will point out that dry wells in Burleson and dry wells in Lee County are occurring under CURRENT DFCs --- DFCs that Vista Ridge is not violating --- which means there’s already something wrong with this picture and now you propose to double the allowable drawdowns for Vista Ridge, and compromise even more exempt wells.
I don’t profess to have data to competently speak about Brazos Valley GCD’s pumping impacts and the DFCs. But I have some questions I wish your constituents would ask and that you would answer as directly, simply and honestly as possible:
Just how do YOU protect landowner rights to groundwater?
How do YOU know that the Carrizo-Wilcox, Sparta and Queen City aquifers can sustain the permitted pumping that you are going to allow?
What research has BVGCD or GMA-12 done to answer that question of sustainability? That is, how do you know you are not actually managing the depletion of a precious natural resource rather than figuring out, any part of the conservation and protection side of the equation, and documenting that work?
How many exempt wells will the proposed DFCs impact in this district?
How many exempt wells do the DFCs need to impact before BVGCD will modify the proposed DFCs; 50%, 75%, 100%.?
If it is more than 50%, how is that balancing production with conservation and private property rights to groundwater?
If your constituents don’t know what’s at stake, that blame is not entirely on them. There is an education and outreach component of what groundwater districts do, in our opinion. If you were to address the questions I just asked in plain English, not just with a computer run that suddenly turns into a set of DFCs without any basis for that to happen or any good explanation of why you thought this approach is adequate, I think you’d get their attention pretty darn quickly.
We will submit written comments to the district after we hear the proceedings today – I hope you give the public access to a recording of today’s hearing prior to the end of the comment period.
Thank you for letting me speak. Please vote against adoption of the proposed DFCs.