Outside forces major factor for aquifer

Stakeholder's meeting draws small crowd but water challenges loom
By KEN ESTEN COOKE Reporter Publisher

Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District board of directors and staff far outnumbered the "crowd" at the district's annual stakeholder meeting Monday at the Milano Civic Center.

The board, its consultant and attorney, reviewed the district's efforts in relation to still-forming water law.

Last year's stakeholder meeting got plenty of attention when it was stated that the Simsboro aquifer would be drawn down 266 feet by the year 2060. Newer models now show that number at an average 300-foot drawdown 51 years from now.

Steve Young, hydrologist for URS who has worked with the district since 2004, said drawdown scenarios over the next 60 years are affected by entities outside our own water district.

"Some of the attention-getting numbers are affected by what is done in neighboring districts," Young said. "Also, historically, there was not nearly the pumping that is predicted for our aquifer."

POSGCD Manager Gary Westbrook said pumping could cease entirely in the POSGCD and we would still see over 200 feet of drawdown by 2060 because of what neighbors in the Brazos Valley and the Lost Pines GCD (Lee and Bastrop counties) are doing.

Districts have yet to come up with trigger points that could potentially curtail pumping once certain levels are reached. And state law has much left to work out as landowners, entrepreneurs and thirsty metropolitan areas jockey for future supplies.

"Groundwater law is very new," said POSGCD attorney Barney Knight. "The bottom line is that San Antonio, based on their current circumstances, will be out here wanting some more water."

Landowners such as Bill Graham of Milano, who did not attend but opined recently in The Reporter that the "deck was stacked for water profiteers."

Westbrook went over basics, such as the duties and powers of the district, aquifer formations, impact levels and production and drawdown criteria. He also touched on zones, production triggers, acreage and spacing considerations — all part of a maze of geology and still forming water law.

"Our district well database now has over 7,500 wells," Westbrook told visitors. "We adopted our 'desired future conditions' (DFCs) in 2005 and those are reviewed every five years.

"We realize our modeling needs improvements in regards to faults, more data, surface water-groundwater interaction and also recharge," Westbrook said.

Landowner Colleen Waring asked for clarification on desired future conditions and asked about predictions of aquifer drawdown a larger scale.

Board meeting

In the board's regular meeting, which followed the stakeholder's meeting, directors discussed the case of Stanley Budnik, who violated several state water laws and district regulations when selling land recently in cases in Burleson County and near Cameron.

Complaints stemmed from a landowner, who said Budnik sold subdivided land with unregistered, shallow wells, representing them as working wells. The board decided to let the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation take the lead in the case.

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2009-10-15 digital edition

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