Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer study will compare plans, pumping

By KEN ESTEN COOKE Reporter Publisher

The first-ever major study of the entire Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer is under way, organizers announced last Thursday at the Bureau of Economic Geology (BED) at the J.J. Pickle Research Center in Austin.

“The study will be driven largely by the feedback from stakeholders—not just the groundwater conservation districts, or cities or rural water authorities, but all interested parties,” said Bill Mullican, former Texas Water Development Board executive, who is leading the study.

Surveys will be collected until March 31 from groundwater conservation districts (GCDs) and another for other “stakeholders.” Surveys may be downloaded at aquiferstudy.

A final draft of the study is due Jan. 11, 2011.

With years of work at the Texas Water Development Board, Mullican said he had seen water operations throughout the nation and said, “Texas has the best groundwater science program. No other state compares.”


Still, water legislation is relatively new and rural authorities and landowners fear too much state power could drain supplies without concern for locals.

As thirsty metro areas eye the waterrich Carrizo-Wilcox for supplies, the study will take on more importance for local landowners, municipalities, industry and rural water supplies.

Mullican said the study would:

• Look for conflicts with GCD management plans. Compare plans with respect to the ability to conserve water.

• Make sure those plans support one another. “You can’t have one county showing a 500-foot water decline, while the next county shows zero,” Mullican said.

• Identify all projects within individual GCDs along the aquifer.

• Look at availability and run pumping scenarios, noting impacts on outcrop areas.

• Look for presence of potential pollution sources.

Local interest

Milam County was well-represented in the crowd of about 200 from across the state.

Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District Manager Gary Westbrook and POSGCD employee Drew Goulson were present, along with hydrologist Steve Jones.

Also present were Ken Hall, who manages the Southwest Milam Water Supply Corp., Central Texas Aquifer Coalition’s Bill Graham and Curtis Chubb, and Rockdale mayoral candidate Collier Perry. Also in the audience was Ross Cummings of Blue Water Corp., which has pumping permits for 71,000 acre-feet of water from the POSGCD, and Frankie Limmer, Williamson County water entrepreneur.

Legislative order After being proposed in the 81st Legislature, a bill to fund the study died in committee.

But State Sen. Steve Ogden, whose District 5 envelopes many of the counties along the Carrizo Wilcox aquifer, wanted the study done. As leader of the appropriations committee, he dedicated $500,000 for the study and pushed it through.

The massive aquifer, one of the most plentiful in the state, mirrors the coastline of Texas, roughly 100 miles inland.


The meeting also allowed the first public comments, which will all become part of the study.

One water supply manager in Atascosa County worried if “farmers and ranchers would become endangered species.”

Some conservationists questioned the accuracy of information submitted by water districts.

A nd a representative from a rural Farm Bureau was concerned about the loss of local control.

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