Major water partnership wins approval

by VERONICA GORDON

The Hays Caldwell Public Utility Agency (HCPUA) won unanimous approval of a complex proposal and permit application last week that assures the agency the ability to pump and transmit thousands of acre-feet of water from the water-rich Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer system in rural Gonzales and eastern Caldwell counties to population centers along the IH-35 corridor.

The adoption of the resolution approving permit terms and conditions issued by the Gonzales County Underground Water Conservation District occurred on Nov. 13, approving the related Mitigation Agreement, Monitoring Agreement and Negotiated Export Fees Agreement.

The ground-breaking agreement to import high-quality water for local high-growth communities is a partnership between San Marcos, Kyle, Buda and the Canyon Regional Water Authority, itself a water cooperative representing four local, member-owned water utilities: County Line Special Utility District, Maxwell Water Supply Corporation, Martindale Water Supply Corporation and the Crystal Clear Water Supply Corporation.

When fully phased, the permit agreements will allow the HCPUA to transmit 10,300 acre- feet of water a year, or enough to supply more than 90,000 new residents as the area grows. The water will help ensure reliable supplies for existing and new residents, and help sponsoring governments further diversify from dependence on more environmentally delicate resources, such as the Edwards Aquifer system.

The agreement supplements current water supplies by adding groundwater supplies from the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer to meet the future water demands of the participants.

The permits also allow for staged production, so that local ratepayers will be able to spread costs over time and not pay for pipelines and other improvements until they’re actually needed.

HCPUA General Manager Graham Moore, a senior engineer with Lockwood Andrews and Newnam (LAN), said the best estimates available indicate the permits should assure HCPUA members of adequate water supply for decades to come, even with expected population growth.

“One of the first steps the agency had to take was to go out and get the water leases for the water rights,” said Moore.

“Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer really is a huge resource. It’s the most viable source of water supply,” Moore said. “The goal is to share current surplus supplies as the area grows. trying to find ways to make that less expensive. With the cost of incoming construction, water is not going to be cheap.”

Moore said this plan provides an opportunity for communities to work together on regional issues and to truly work together to find solutions for future water needs.

HCPUA Board President David Wilson, a Kyle city council member, echoed those sentiments.

“Honestly, this is a big deal and it’s a win-win,” Wilson said. “We are very happy the Gonzales board approved our permit and would like to thank them. This is the next step toward securing our water future through 2060.”

“It really was a gift to be thankful for,” said San Marcos City Council Member Kim Porterfield, “Even though it’s one we worked long and hard to earn.”

“With this partnership there will be water available for the area, whether the growth occurs in San Marcos, Kyle or Buda, and that’s the important thing,” said Buda Council Member Todd Ruge.

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