Travis County commissioners ban development that uses Trinity Aquifer water (Posted By Mike Mecke)

County will study ways to regulate groundwater use.

By Marty Toohey


Updated: 12:31 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010

Published: 10:38 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010

Travis County commissioners unanimously approved a one-year ban Tuesday on nearly all new development in western parts of the county that would rely on water from the Trinity Aquifer.

The county has received complaints of wells that draw from the Trinity running dry. County officials say the ban would give them time to study and enact stricter rules governing what can be built over Travis County’s portion of the Trinity, a massive aquifer that stretches from North Texas to west of San Antonio and is divided into many pockets, including one in western Travis and northern Hays County.

The ban is intended “to take a pause to have a dialogue with those landowners” who draw or might draw from the Trinity, Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt said.

Some affected property owners were unhappy about the county’s decision. Ted Stewart , who owns land near Hamilton Pool Road, said the commissioners chose to infringe on the property rights of rural Travis County residents to appease “mostly downtown metrosexuals or people (already) living on beautiful, 5-acre subdivided properties in the Hill Country.”

The ban does not apply to developments that have already been approved, such as the West Cypress Hills subdivision, where about 100 of 1,500 planned homes have been built. The ban also does not apply to planned subdivisions with pending applications for county permits.

In addition, the ban includes some minor exceptions. For instance, it does not apply to developments with lots larger than 10 acres , as long as the developer does not build any roads.

The ban is necessary, county officials say, because of long-term population growth and water demand forecasts, and wells in the region that periodically run dry. “Most of the dry wells are associated with increased pumpage due to recent development,” independent hydrologist Raymond Slade Jr. wrote in a 2006 report for the Hays Trinity Groundwater District, which oversees pumping from the Trinity in adjacent Hays County.

Todd Reimers, whose family owns large tracts in western Travis County, said enacting such a district in the western part of the county — as opposed to a building ban — is the best way to address the water issues. There are now seven districts operating along the Trinity, and Slade said Travis should have one to ensure that Travis can claim its share of the water.

The state is laying groundwork for such a district, which must be approved by a majority of people who would live within its bounds.

Commissioner Karen Huber, who represents western Travis County, said she supports the idea but is skeptical that the district would effectively regulate water use without additional county rules.

The commissioners approved the ban 3-0; Ron Davis and Margaret Gómez were absent.

“It’s prudent to be proactive,” said John Dupnik , with the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, which helps manage a neighboring portion of the Edwards Aquifer and contends that drought and increased development are probably contributing to dry Trinity wells.

The Trinity is one of the most highly used groundwater resources in Texas, according to the State Water Plan, last updated in 2006. Although its primary use is for municipalities, it is also used for irrigation, livestock and other domestic purposes.

In 2008, during the drought that parched much of Central Texas, Jacob’s Well, a prized spring fed by the Trinity Aquifer in northern Hays County, went dry. It was the first time it had gone dry since 2000 and only the second time since pioneers settled in the area.

Jacob’s Well is the primary source of water for Cypress Creek, which runs through Wimberley.; 445-3673

Who owns the groundwater beneath your land? (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

Landowner groups host groundwater ownership forum in Lubbock

PRESS RELEASE FROM Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Texas landowner groups have joined forces in an effort to ensure that groundwater continues to be recognized as a vested, real private property right. The groups will host an educational forum Oct. 28, at the Merket Alumni Center from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. The forums are aimed to help the public understand current groundwater ownership issues.

The growing effort, currently supported by the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA); the Texas Wildlife Association (TWA); the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB); the Texas Poultry Federation (TPF); the Exotic Wildlife Association (EWA); the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association (TSGRA); the Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA); the Texas Association of Dairymen (TAD); the South Texans’ Property Rights Association (STPRA); the Riverside and Landowners Protection Coalition; the Texas Forestry Association; and the Texas Land and Mineral Owners Association (TLMA), brings together more than 400,000 Texans who own more than 50 million acres of private property.

According to estimates by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), by 2060 Texas’ population will more than double, increasing its water demand by 27 percent. Because groundwater from Texas aquifers supply more than half the water for the state, it is critical that groundwater resources be managed to provide for current and future use.

Each forum will cover various groundwater topics including the current groundwater regulation under the Texas Water Code, legal issues surrounding groundwater, and why groundwater conservation is important not only to private property owners in Texas, but also to Texas communities.

Forums are free and open to the public. The Merket Alumni Center is located at 17th and University in Lubbock. For more information visit

Water News Briefs (Posted By Mike Mecke)

Published in October 2010 Ranch & Rural Living Magazine

Paved Dallas-Fort Worth Prairie is Fertile Ground for Floodwaters

Sept. 9, 2010  By Randy Lee Loftis  Dallas Morning News

The tropical downpour in North Texas this week showed one effect of decades of urbanization: flash floods worsened by the wholesale paving of the prairie.
The remains of Tropical Storm Hermine left many neighborhoods awash Wednesday. And though few areas might escape flooding when 5 to 10 inches of rain falls in a day, planners say widespread development – the replacing of native grasslands and woods with roofs, roads and parking lots – has worsened the risk.
Water that once might have taken its time rambling along wide waterways and soaking into the soil now hurries toward the nearest overloaded drain or down a concrete-lined ditch.

D-FW Businesses, Governments Trying to Conserve Water

Sept. 12, 2010  By Bill Hanna  Fort Worth Star-Telegram

There’s no way of getting around it — you can’t make beer without water. But the MillerCoors Fort Worth Brewery in south Fort Worth, while consuming 887 million gallons in 2009, is using less water these days.
. . .
And for many years Dallas-Fort Worth has battled the perception that it uses an inordinate amount of water compared with other parts of the state. Some Oklahoma legislators involved in the Tarrant Regional Water District’s legal fight to obtain water from north of the Red River have also portrayed the region’s communities as “water hogs” and given that as a reason for opposing the sale of water to Texas.

Rainwater Catchment System Put to Use at BHS

Sept. 9, 2009   Bandera County Courier

Bandera High School’s Construction Trades classes made history today by using the district’s first rainwater catchment system, built last school year through a grant made possible by the Bandera ISD Education Foundation, to water the new BHS Softball Field.
With just a few adjustments, the students under the supervision of teacher Brad Flink and BISD maintenance worker Jason Smith were spraying a 30-foot stream of water over the softball outfield.

El Paso Water Utilities Projects Underway

Sept. 8, 2010  By Kandolite Flores  KFOX El Paso

An El Paso Water Utilities project has closed the right lane of Zaragoza Road just south of Gateway East for about 200 feet. A leak was detected in a waterline, and crews must excavate and survey the line to pinpoint the location of the leak. This work is necessary to prevent disruption of water service to customers and further inconveniences for drivers. The lane is anticipated to reopen by Friday, September 17. We ask for the community’s patience during this project.

Securing a Balance for Region’s Future Water

Sept. 12, 2010  By Robert Rivard  My SA News

Imagine a worst-case scenario in the coming years: A federal judge advised by officials charged with enforcing the Endangered Species Act decides when San Antonio residents can water their lawns and when farmers can irrigate their crops.

Water Symposium Presentations Slated for Fredericksburg, San Antonio, Kerrville

The 2010-2011 Texas Water Symposium Series will provide perspectives from policy makers, scientists, water resource experts and regional leaders. Join us as we explore together, the complexity and challenges in providing water for Texans in this century. Each session is free and open to the public. Nov. 11: Texas Tech University, Hill Country University Center Bldg, Fredericksburg; Jan 27: Witte Museum, San Antonio co-hosted and sponsored by the Witte Museum; March 31: Schreiner University, Callioux Campus Activity Center, Kerrville Texas.

Texas Water Development Board

Providing Application for Financial Assistance

Texas Water Development Board is offering a new application for financial assistance for water and wastewater infrastructure projects.

Texas Irrigation Expo October 21-22, 2010

The Rio Grande Valley will be the site of a major, statewide exposition on agricultural irrigation to be held in Mercedes.
The two-day event will include presentations by expert speakers, tours of demonstration sites currently using on-farm water conservation tools and techniques, a scholarship contest for high school students, and exhibitors displaying the latest technology and equipment. The Harlingen Irrigation District is coordinating the event as part of the state’s Agricultural Water Conservation Demonstration Initiative, which is funded through a grant from the Texas Water Development Board. This event is free and open to the public.

N.M. Official: Headwaters Deserve Special Protection

Sept. 15, 2010  By Susan Montoya Bryan  AP/Alamogorda Daily News

Nearly half of New Mexico’s surface water comes from federal forest lands, and some of those headwater streams, lakes and wetlands deserve special protections to ensure they continue providing clean water for the state, a top official with the New Mexico Environment Department said Tuesday. Marcy Leavitt, head of the department’s Water and Wastewater Division, was among the experts who testified before the Water Quality Control Commission at the start of a four-day hearing at the state capitol.
The commission is considering a petition by the department that aims to designate about 700 miles of rivers and streams, 29 lakes and more than 4,900 acres of wetlands in a dozen wilderness areas as so-called “outstanding national resource waters.” The designation would protect the waters by prohibiting any activities that would degrade water quality. Several of New Mexico’s rivers flow into Texas.