Senator Tommy Williams
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0104

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2009
Contact: 512-463-0104

WATER
Montgomery County's Future in the Balance

The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (Lone Star) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2001 to conserve and protect the aquifer beneath Montgomery County. To sustain our aquifer, Lone Star is now in the process of developing final rules which will require a 30% reduction in groundwater pumping throughout Montgomery County by the year 2015. The San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) has requested the Texas Legislature to enact legislation authorizing the SJRA to implement a voluntary, efficient and cost-effective county-wide plan to meet Lone Star's rules.

The Montgomery County Commissioners Court and the City of Conroe have spearheaded recent efforts to refine and improve this legislation. Senator Robert Nichols and The Conroe Courier should be commended for advancing the dialogue on the proposed legislation in their recent columns and editorials. I believe the work of all these parties has improved the proposed legislation.

What the Plan Does and Does Not Involve

For the past 2 years, most of the Montgomery County groundwater users impacted by the proposed new rules have been working with the SJRA to develop a comprehensive groundwater reduction plan. The most effective and cost-efficient plan is for SJRA to construct a water treatment and distribution system for the densely populated areas of Montgomery County to convert to surface water from Lake Conroe. This conversion will allow many existing groundwater users to continue using their wells. The plan will keep infrastructure and costs to a minimum, and will facilitate future economic growth in Montgomery County by allowing new development the ability to pump groundwater.

Let's be clear about what the SJRA plan does not involve:

Legislation Provides Options

In order for existing groundwater users to comply with Lone Star's rules, the proposed legislation offers existing groundwater users an opportunity to "opt-in" to the SJRA plan. These existing groundwater users won't need to decide whether they should take this option until after certain events have occurred.

In addition the legislation looks out for future development in Montgomery County by automatically including new groundwater users in the SJRA plan. This allows SJRA to optimize the planning and construction of infrastructure today to accommodate future growth.

Fixed Fee Limits

The proposed legislation specifically requires SJRA to carry out its plan on a break-even, non-profit basis, and obligates SJRA to provide the lowest charges consistent with good management practices. SJRA will also be required to prepare a separate annual audit showing the revenues and expenses related to the plan. No groundwater user will be required to opt-in to the SJRA plan.

Water Conservation and Our Future

I am encouraged by how many of the concerns identified by Senator Nichols have been addressed in recent revisions to the proposed legislation. We all agree:

Unless we take steps to ensure the availability of surface water to our county our future growth will surely be limited. A look at our history will remind us about the importance of water to our local and regional future. Now is the time for us to take bold action if we are to provide this important legacy to future generations of Texans living in Montgomery County.

Get Involved

I encourage citizens and elected officials in Montgomery County who are interested in the choices offered by the proposed legislation and the SJRA plan to contact our Montgomery county legislative delegation. My office can be reached by phone at 1-512-463-0104, by fax at 1-512-463-6373 or email at tommy.williams@senate.state.tx.us

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