POSGC directors appointed due to state law

A lot of questions and concerns are being raised among many of us in Milam County as well as in Lee and Bastrop Counties over the recently announced proposed sale by Alcoa of their property to the Lower Colorado River Authority.

This announcement has coincided with an application by Alcoa with the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District (POSGCD) for well permits which has further raised concerns over future aquifer levels, groundwater transfer out of the county, and so on.

I’ve attended the public meetings like many of you and have met privately with LCRA officials as well.

And I’ve been attending most of the Post Oak Savannah board monthly meetings since I’ve been in office to try to stay informed.

My intention is to represent the overall best interests of Milam County as best I can in these matters.

However, there are sometimes conflicting interests among citizens groups which makes it difficult to know just what to do when, as your elected official, a decision has to be made in the best interest of the county.

So in doing my job I try to keep an open mind, stay independent as a judge, and not be influenced by special interests.

At the present time LCRA is in the process of doing their “due diligence” to determine whether they are going to close the deal with Alcoa.

During this time they are constrained from making public statements as to what their plans and policies will be should they purchase the property.

Until they make their intentions known, we really don’t know what their impact on Milam County might be, good or bad.

We’ve assumed some bad things, but there are potentially some positives that I urge you to wait to hear before forming your final conclusions.

The current rules of the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District allow for two acre-feet of water, per acre per year pumpage on permitted acreage.

The district monitors levels in the Simsboro Aquifer and permits are written such that if levels drop below specified levels, the allowed pumpage will be cut back so as to preserve the levels at desired heights in the aquifer.

Concerns expressed at the meetings were that this policy is flawed or that the district will not have the power to enforce these restrictions when the time comes to do so.

The current state law provides for this authority. Our board must operate with the understanding that this law will allow them to do what it says. Also, state law does not allow them to prevent transfer out of the county. Therefore, they cannot write a rule to block export. However, they can charge an export fee which could be a potential deterrent to excessive exports.

POSGCD board members are appointed (five each) by the commissioners courts of Milam and Burleson Counties without com- pensation and operate under the laws set forth by the legislature of the state of Texas.

So, we need to understand that they have certain constraints placed on them by the laws of the state that they have no choice but to adhere to. The recent controversy has alsobroughtuptheissueagain that perhaps these board positions should be elected by the citizens of the county rather than appointed by the commissioner’s court.

S ome a re u nder t he m istaken impression that the county judge or commissioners court could change this.

Actually these positions were established as appointed positions in 2001 by the state legislature when the four groundwater conservation districts in the central Carrizo-Wilcox region were established with boards in all four of these districts in a nine county area being appointed.

So to get these changed to elected positions would require action by the entire state legislature in Austin.

I recognize that some of you will not agree with the rules and policies that our POSGCD has adopted, but hopefully we will all treat them with respect in that they are serving at our request without pay and are trying to do what they think is best for us within the laws set forth by the state.

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2012-10-11 digital edition

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