The battle over sound management heats up at GMA-12.

Comparison of impacts of Current DFCs vs. Proposed DFCs on Colorado River. Click on graphic to hear discussion of these impacts by Steve Box at GMA-12 Meeting on April 20, 2021.

Coalition formed to advocate for sound management  – not aquifer mining – as the only way to protect our local communities and the environment from groundwater over-pumping!

So far, our local regulators and the legislature have failed to address the mining of our most precious resource as the battle heats up on sound management of groundwater under eleven counties just miles east of the Austin – San Antonio metro area.  These  counties sit over the most sought-after groundwater in Texas – the Simsboro Aquifer within the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer group.

The clock is ticking on our ability to reject managed depletion of a resource our communities and the Colorado River cannot live without — WATER.

Groundwater Conservation Districts — our state’s supposed preferred management tool for protection of the water below us — have struggled, for years, to do their job while facing litigation, and threats of litigation, from water marketers, developers and legislators who call for “managed depletion” — otherwise known as mining.

And it’s all coming to a head now. Public hearings are now being scheduled in the five Groundwater Districts to get your comments and concerns over the next few months (May-July).   

In response, Environmental Stewardship and the Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund, with help from our friends at the League of Independent Voters of Texas, have established the WaterDefenders.org Coalition to advocate for sound management and lead the opposition to this threat of over-pumping our aquifers.

We invite all citizens, landowners, local government officials, businesses, and community organizations to join us to challenge the “Proposed Desired Future Conditions” and management policies being set for the Groundwater Management Area in which we live (GMA-12).

 

These are the members of GMA-12:

Lost Pines GCD – Bastrop and Lee Counties

Post Oak Savannah GCD – Burleson and Milam Counties

Brazos Valley GCD – Brazos and Robertson Counties

Fayette County GCD – Fayette County

Mid-East Texas GCD – Freestone, Leon and Madison Counties

Click here for hearing dates and contact information

The Background

Every five years, the groundwater conservation districts meet in their own management area (in this case our area is GMA-12) to establish the DFCs — Desired Future Conditions. This complex joint planning process boils down to something simple. The districts — with or without citizen input — set the rules for pumping the aquifers. Unfortunately, they have based these rules on what water marketers have demanded be pumped, rather than what the aquifers can sustainably supply, in perpetuity. And the damage is already showing up. 

For example, the Vista Ridge water pipeline to San Antonio began massive pumping – 50,000 acre-feet of groundwater per year — in April 2020. This 30-year project, within just the first 6 months of pumping, has already begun damaging local landowner wells in Burleson and Lee Counties. We’re talking about thousands of dollars in costs to individuals to lower pumps, and in some cases, lowering pumps is not even possible.

Yet, as we write this message, the Groundwater Conservation Districts appear ready to set currently proposed DFCs that will protect mega-pumping water marketers without balancing those protections with long-term protections for thousands of people who rely on these aquifers for drinking water and the drought resilience of the Colorado River.

On the heels of the most recent disaster – the Big Freeze — involving our electrical grid, we find this management failure to protect our water and the environment unacceptable.

We believe the proposed pumping favored by some (but not all) of the conservation districts in GMA-12 is also unacceptable. We cannot allow the mining of the aquifers under our counties, destruction of landowners’ domestic and livestock wells, and damage to the Colorado River and tributaries, to become the guiding principles of water management in our region.

On April 20th, Environmental Stewardship and SAWDF presented the science and experiences behind our concerns to the GMA-12 representatives.  We also provided our thoughts on how this conflict can be resolved — by following the laws, not legal threats being made by water marketers.

Here is a summary of the issues being decided:

Get more information on these issues here

More on Our Water Future

The districts have until January 5, 2022 to get it right. But, we have less than 90 days (about 60) to get the Groundwater Districts to change course and protect our communities and the environment.

Here is what we must do to get the ball rolling in a new direction:  We must get 2 of the 5 Districts to reject the Proposed DFCs and remand them back to GMA-12 for revisionAnd we have started the ball rolling.  On May 19th ES and SAWDF  made a joint presentation to the Lost Pines GCD Board of Directors.  On June 7th we will make a joint presentation to the Fayette County GCD Board of Directors.  And Environmental stewardship has sent a letter (legal brief) to all five GMA Boards outlining the legal process that needs to be followed in order to develop desired future conditions that meet the legal criteria set in statutes by the Texas Legislature and sustained in the Texas Supreme Court.  It’s a big challenge, but with your help, we can get the job done.  

We want to see these Proposed DFCs rejected in favor of DFCs based on:

sustainable management of the aquifers,

protection of exempt landowner domestic and livestock wells, and

sustaining the resilience of the Colorado River to drought

For more in-depth information on these issues, please go to the following webpages:

Projected impacts to the Colorado River and its tributaries

Current and projected impacts on domestic and livestock wells.

What you can do!

  1. Contact the board members of the groundwater districts and tell them that the “Proposed DFCs” must be rejected and sent back for revision. (Get hearing schedule, contact information and talking points here).
  2. Sign up for our newsletter if you are not already signed up,  and urge your friends to join us in this battle by taking these two steps:
    • Take step 1 above, and
    • Sign up for our newsletter so that we can keep them informed and alert them to other actions to take. 
  3. Plan to attend the hearings, meetings, and rallies that the WaterDenders.org coalition will be organizing in the weeks ahead.  Regardless of where you live in GMA-12, you can provide comments before, during or after the hearings until July 29th. (See public notice and instructions here.)
  4. Reach Your Local Officials (City and County) to ask them what they are doing about the situation. Ask them to call their Legislators and speak to the groundwater districts too! Tell them that the already permitted pumping has stretched GMA-12 beyond reality and they have lost their ability to manage responsibly.
  5. Donate to our efforts. Environmental Stewardship urgently needs your support to make this campaign a success.  

Report back to us or ask questions:

Thank you!