Groundwater protections making splash at lege

By Andy Sevilla

A bill that could extend groundwater protections beyond groundwater management districts is making its way through the legislature.

State Representative Jason Isaac on Feb. 6 filed House Bill 1191, which would create a buffer zone of five miles beyond the boundaries of a priority groundwater management area and give additional groundwater protection authority to the Texas Water Development Board. 

“Protecting the groundwater of the Hill Country region and the entire State has been a top priority of mine since I was first elected to serve House District 45,” Isaac  said in a statement. 

Hays County has been front and center recently in groundwater battles pitting property owners against private commercial water supplier and its customers, which often include cities, other public groups and private developers.

Isaac also has or is planning to file bills adding limited regulation to portions of otherwise unregulated aquifers, and changing household graywater usage laws.

“These bills will address the immediate concerns of my constituents in Hays County, and will also help in bringing innovative water saving solutions to Texas by increasing graywater usage and encouraging rainwater collection systems,” Isaac said.

Another proposal in the works would extend the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) and the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD) boundaries, which both require a 30-day posting notice prior to filing. Isaac has provided the required 30-day notice.

These proposals would directly speak to a growing water concern in Hays County.

A Houston-based private commercial water supplier, Electro Purification, is seeking to pump 1.8 billion gallons of water from the Cow Creek Formation of the Trinity Aquifer. The private company’s well field is located just outside the boundaries of the BSEACE and HTGCD, but is inside the Edwards Aquifer Authority EAA), though that authority only regulates the Edwards Aquifer and not the Trinity beneath it.

Isaac said he first learned in mid-2014 that the Trinity Aquifer was unprotected in areas of Hays County. “Immediately, I began conversations with local elected officials, charged with protecting our groundwater, about solutions that would cover the unprotected area of the Trinity.”

Electro Purification has agreements with Goforth Water SUD, a private developer and the city of Buda, for a combined 5.3 million gallons of water per day.

Many residents, elected officials and groundwater conservation representatives asked Buda officials to delay their agreement and allow time for water groups to model data and forecast any potential effects of the proposed drilling. 

Buda officials went against those seeking a delay, and voted Jan. 20 to move forward with a water supply agreement with Electro Purification. City officials also added a mitigation clause in their agreement that could help mitigate any effects to domestic wells in western Hays County.

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