INFORMATION ON GROUNDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICTS
(AUSTIN) - Last week, the Senate Select Committee on Water Policy held another regional hearing in San Antonio. This was one of several hearings the committee will be holding throughout the state, and my colleagues and I will continue to gather information for water policy initiatives in preparation for the next regular session. For information on the dates and locations of future hearings, please feel free to contact any of my offices.
Among the select committee's specific charges as they relate to the management and policy concerning ground and surface water is the role of groundwater conservation districts (GCDs). My previous article focused on groundwater conservation districts, and this article will attempt to answer many of the frequently asked questions about GCDs.. To access more information, please feel free to visit the Water Resources Education website at texaswater.tamu.edu/index.html.
What relationship does the size of a district have with respect to the land area above the aquifer?
Aquifers have no political boundaries. They are based on geological formation. Groundwater conservation districts are generally based on county lines. Because most groundwater conservation districts do not cover an entire aquifer, an aquifer may be managed by several GCDs. Each district must plan with the other districts within their common groundwater management areas.
What is the difference between a groundwater management area and a groundwater conservation district?
A groundwater management area is a geological area that is suitable for the management of groundwater resources. It is like a river basin for surface water. Groundwater management areas generally coincide with the boundaries of aquifers.
A groundwater conservation district is a political entity whose boundaries may or may not coincide with aquifer boundaries.
Often more than one GCD is located in a groundwater management area. If a GCD is in a shared groundwater management area, then each district must consider the plans of the other districts. The GCD may call for joint planning of the other districts in the area.
What is a GCD management plan?
A management plan outlines the GCD's goals and the steps needed to reach those goals. The plan must be developed in coordination with appropriate surface water management entities.
The goals of a management plan are to:
- Provide for the most efficient use of groundwater.
- Control and prevent waste of groundwater.
- Control and prevent subsidence.
- Address conjunctive surface water issues.
- Address natural resources issues.
- Address drought conditions.
- Address conservation.
To meet these goals, the GCD must:
- Identify performance standards and management objectives.
- Specify the actions, procedures, performance and avoidance necessary to implement the plan.
What are the mandated duties of a GCD?
By law, each GCD must:
- Develop and adopt a management plan and coordinate planning with regional planning groups, state agencies and other GCDs.
- Adopt the rules needed to implement the plan.
- Keep records of drilling, equipping and completing of water wells, and the production and use of groundwater.
- Permit and register certain wells.
- Adopt rules for governance and establish administrative and financial procedures. These include operating on the basis of a fiscal year, preparing and approving an annual budget, having an annual audit, holding regular board meetings and submitting records to the appropriate Texas agencies.
All GCD meetings are subject to the Texas open meeting and open records requirements.
To contact Sen. Deuell about the legislative process, contact the Capitol Office at (512) 463-0556 or mail to Sen. Bob Deuell, Texas Senate, P.O. Box 12068, Austin, TX 78711. The website for the Texas Senate is www.Senate.state.tx.us. The e-mail address for Sen. Deuell is: firstname.lastname@example.org.