C.A.R.D. Urges Support for Full Authorization of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District

March, 2009

As residents of western Hays County, we know what it means to be short of water.  We are currently in an exceptional drought, existing wells are going dry, new wells are being drilled every day to accommodate new growth, and water companies are declaring water emergencies.  Citizens expect their elected officials to find solutions to providing for basic needs such as reliable water supply, garbage collection, safe roads, sewerage disposal, and fire and police protection. 

A preview of a future without action; current condition of a once-flowing area water source.
Of all these needs, a reliable supply of potable water is basic and essential to life.  In the Texas Hill Country most of us depend on groundwater supplied to us by either our private wells or by water company wells.  Ten years ago the Texas Legislature created the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District to help manage the aquifer that supplies this groundwater to western Hays County.  An election in 2003 confirmed the district by a two-to-one margin and selected five directors.  With an elected board of directors, a small paid staff, and many dedicated volunteers, the district has compiled an enviable record of describing the geologic structure of the aquifer, monitoring water levels in area wells, and where possible, setting well production at rates that maintain a sustainable aquifer.

However, the district does not operate under the full authority of Chapter 36 of the Texas Water Code, the standard for most other groundwater conservation districts around the state.  The Hays Trinity District was intentionally created to be weak and poorly funded.  In spite of this structure, the district has done its job and has gained the support of citizens in Hays County who realize the limits of the available groundwater supply.  These citizens support a district that has the authority to protect the water that we all depend on. A good example of a district with full Chapter 36 authority that does an excellent job in monitoring and regulating groundwater is the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer District.  

The Hays Trinity District needs full Chapter 36 authorization from the Texas Legislature so that it can prevent well interference and over-pumping, set standards for wells consistent with local geologic conditions, monitor and enforce commercial pumping permits, record well conditions district-wide, and fund professional staff to carry out the district's functions. Chapter 36 allows citizens to call a referendum and vote on a small property tax to support the functions of the district.  Currently, the district is woefully under-funded, depending on the support of the Hays County Commissioners Court, the Texas State River Systems Institute, and fees charged for constructing new wells and making new connections to water systems utilizing groundwater.  The District needs a reliable, independent funding source like other groundwater districts in the state.

A stronger Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District will help to maintain a healthy aquifer and a sustainable groundwater supply.  A stronger district will help to support property and land values, since water availability is basic to life. Tourism is a major part of the economy of central Texas.  Visitors are attracted to the area because of the clear flowing waters.  Since groundwater is the source of our rivers and streams during the summer months, it is critical that we manage our groundwater to maintain those rivers, streams, and swimming holes.

The Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development supports sustainable development in Wimberley and western Hays County.  We strongly support full Chapter 36 authority for the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District. We urge all elected officials and citizens to call for additional authority, like other Texas groundwater conservation districts, and support legislation to grant that authority.



City of Wimberley - Mayor Tom Haley and City Council Members - 847-0025
PO Box 2027, Wimberley, TX 78676   

City of Woodcreek - Mayor Gloria Whitehead and City Council Members - 847-9390
41 Champion Circle, Woodcreek, TX 78676

City of Dripping Springs - Mayor Todd Percell and City Council Members  512-858-4725
PO Box 384, Dripping Springs, TX 78620

State Representative Patrick Rose - Texas House of Representatives - 512-463-0647
PO Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768

State Senator Jeff Wentworth - Texas Senate - 210-826-7800
PO Box 12068 Capital Station, Austin, TX  78711

Hays County Officials:  Courthouse Annex, San Marcos, TX  78666

Judge Elizabeth Sumter - 512-393-2204   lizsumter@co.hays.tx.us
111 E. San Antonio St., Ste. 300, San Marcos  78666

Commissioner Will Conley - 512-847-3159
PO Box 2085, Wimberley, TX 78676

Commissioner Jeff Barton - 512-262-2091
PO Box 1180, Kyle, TX 78640

Commissioner Karen Ford - 512-858-7268
PO Box 1158, Dripping Springs, TX 78620

Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe - 512-393-2243
111 E. San Antonio St., Ste. 204, San Marcos, TX 78666