POSGCD's MAGs, DFCs and the TWDB

In just about any industry, acronyms become a necessary evil. It's easier to say "ROI" than "Return On Investment" when you're talking finance.

Acronyms can be annoying to a newspaper reader (or internet chatterer—LOL!). And, as I proved last week, they can be a stumbling block to this writer, who is admittedly looking at a steep learning curve when dealing with water issues.

Boy, did I feel like a drip! (Don't you just love water puns?)

As dictated by the TWDB, the Texas Water Development Board, water districts manage their affairs to DFCs, or "desired future conditions." That's the amount of water they'd want to see in their, say, 50-year or 100-year time frames.

To manage to those DFCs, they must deal with MAGs, or "managed available groundwater." (Last week, I wrote "maximum allowable groundwater," which was wrong.)

MAGs deal with the amount that is allowed for permitting and pumping. What is permitted has historically been higher than what has been pumped. So just because Farmer Brown has 2,000 acre-feet permitted, he may only use 1,000 a year, especially on a year with better rains. What the board members for the POSGCD—that's Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District—must take care with are corporate pumpers, like Blue Water Corp., which has permits for 70,339 acre-feet of water and will likely use all of it to pump to thirsty cities, provided they find buyers. And the way cities are growing, they probably will not have too much trouble.

Getting back to DFCs, water planners in the area are forecasting a drop of 266 feet in the aquifer by the year 2060. What isn't clear in that number is that we could turn off every single water pump in the Post Oak Savannah GCD for the next 50 years and there would still be a drop of over 200 feet just because of what the districts around us are doing.

Lost Pines GCD and Bryan- College Station are also plenty thirsty and we all use the same aquifer.

(A lcoa obviously no longer mines, but is permitted for 15,000 acre-feet and still pumps each year for plant use and irrigation purposes on its reclaimed land.)

Still with me?

POSGCD Manager Gary Westbrook and its board are charged with a difficult, and thankless, task of ecological and commercial balance. Though many landowners would probably like to shut down any spigots to the outside world, that's not realistic.

If the board was too stingy with its wet resource, voters and business interests in the population centers would lobby the Legislature for laws that would let them come and suck it out from under us. That wouldn't be fair, but since when has politics ever been fair?

And with current population and weather patterns, the TWDB has eyes on movi ng water from the wetter eastern part of the state to the dryer western parts.

It makes me feel sorry for landowners, who have lived honestly by the rule of capture for decades. Mostly ag producers, they have taken what they have needed and treated the land well. Now they live in fear of a giant straw from the metropolis reaching over here and stealing their lifeblood. (And ours, too.)

Which brings us back to the POSGCD, the board charged with managing all this and preventing that from happening.

Some at the state level are impressed. They have asked Westbrook to talk at the Oct. 13- 14 TWDB workshop in Bryan. His talk: "Managing Groundwater in the Carrizo-Wilcox."

Water law is still developing and management is going to be a big deal that will affect us all.

Gary didn't give me too hard a time after last week's article because he had a learning curve himself when he was chosen six years ago to lead the district.

So, let's all try to conserve water and I'll try to keep my MAGs and my DFCs straight.

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2009-09-17 digital edition

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