Groundwater Districts Fear Loss of Local Control With Proposed Changes

A push for broader cooperation among local water managers could lead to an easier road for water exporters.

By Travis BubenikApril 24, 2017 9:30 am| , , , ,

From Houston Public Media

For decades, local water regulators across rural Texas have decided how to best conserve and use their underground aquifers.

Now, lawmakers are considering a bill that could change how Groundwater Conservation Districts operate. That’s got many districts, including some on the outskirts of Houston, worried they’ll have less power to decide how the water underneath their communities gets used.

At the state capitol recently, a senate committee heard testimony from water managers, farmers and landowners. Some supported Senate Bill 1392, but most opposed.

(SB 1392 is still undergoing revisions in committee. Here’s an amended version that came out of that recent hearing.)

The bill’s author, Lubbock Republican Charles Perry, wants neighboring districts to work together. The idea is that water doesn’t care about political boundaries, and that the state needs a more uniform way of managing it.

“We’ve got all these little micro-managers running around on the same aquifer, that performs the same way, the same geology, recharges the same, uses the same, and we got different sets of rules,” Perry said.

The bill would require districts tapping into the same aquifers to come up with similar rules. It would also ban them from trying to keep water all to themselves. Districts would be prevented from setting up more restrictive permit conditions on people looking to export water.

For growing Texas cities that in the future might want to pump in new water sources from rural areas, that’s good news. For the rural areas, maybe not so much.

Read more.