Blue Water, Manor have deal for 500,000 gallons per day
It looks like the City of Manor will be the first customer for Blue Water Corp., which has permission to pump 70,993 acre-feet from the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District, directors learned on Tuesday night at the regular board meeting at POSGCD headquarters in Milano.
Blue Water has contracted with Manor for 500,000 gallons per day, equal to 1.5 acre-feet. The total contract supplies roughly 500 acre-feet of the 70,993 of its total permits.
Blue Water Corp. is in the process of aquiring land easements to run a pipeline from Burleson County westward to Manor and possibly other municipalities along the growth corridor east of the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area.
Directors also issued a minimum fine to Blue Water for not providing a copy of the contract, a stipulation required with the permit. Blue Water CEO Ross Cummings accepted the fine without argument and said not providing it was an oversight.
“We thought Gary (Westbrook, POSGCD manager) had a copy of the contract,” Cummings told directors. “There is no reason why we wouldn’t provide it. There would be no benefit to us.”
In the public comments, Bruce Brinkman, who owns a ranch near Deanville, said he believed it was wrong to lower production and transport fees, as the board did last month.
“I have not seen anything from this group that benefits those who have not signed a water lease,” Brinkman told the board. He advocated for a committee to set up and administer conservation grants for landowners, using Bamberger Ranch in Blanco County as an example of successful conservation efforts.
Curtis Chubb, representing the Central Texas Aquifer Coalition, asked that the board consider its Managed Available Groundwater as the maximum amount allowed for pumping scenarios, instead of as a rough guideline.
Westbrook told directors he visited with representatives from the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) about grants. He said the district had worked with water utilities first, then expand its grant-giving efforts to landowners for brush control and other water-saving measures.
Board member Robert Ware said he would like to see monies set aside “so we don’t have one area of conservation competing (for grants) with another.”
Westbrook said the district has looked into other conservation measures, from creating containment areas to encouraging use of low-flush toilets.
• Accepted some changes to board policies and procedures.
• Re-appointed six directors: Dwayne Jekel, Kerry Starnes and Jim Hodson from Milam County, Lee Alford, Nathan Ausley and Jay Wilder from Burleson County.
Ausley will continue as board chair, with Dwayne Jekel as vice president, and Kerry Starnes as secretary/treasurer.
In a related issue, Count y Judge Frank Summers said this week he plans to take up the issue of a severance tax for water, like those issued on oil and gas, with Milam’s representatives in the State Legislature.
“This income from the export of water from a county would then be dedicated, by law, to the reduction of ad valorem taxes,” Summers said. “Even though we would be losing our water, we would still benefit from the use our our valuable resources.”
Summers said that would be one way this area could benefit from rich water resources. His contention is that metropolitan areas pumping in water from this area benefit and can encourage more economic development resulting from the availability of this area’s water.
“The development will increase their tax base and allow for the lowering of that area’s tax rate,” Summers said.
During a visit to Rockdale Rotary Club on Tuesday, State Sen. Steve Ogden said Texas might eventually see water move toward a “market system.”
“Water law is still developing and it’s still all so new,” Ogden said. “But the market system is pretty efficient with oil and gas,” he added, saying it may work with
GMA 12 MEETING
A joint planning meeting for the five districts in the Groundwater Management Area (GMA) 12 will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Milano Civic Center, 120 West Ave. E., in Milano.
Preliminary “desired future conditions” of aquifers will be presented for Brazos Valley GCD, Fayette County GCD, Lost Pines GCD, Mid-East Texas GCD and Post Oak Savannah GCD.
Other agenda items include discussion of the process for setting desired future conditions and improvements to the current Central Carrizo Groundwater Availability Model.
The meeting is open to the public.