By Samantha Smith
For roughly two hours Tuesday, the Hays County Commissioners Court debated the need to construct a multi-port monitoring well to study groundwater within the Trinity and Edwards aquifers.
By a 4-1 vote, commissioners entered into an interlocal agreement with the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) to provide funding for constructing the well.
Under the ILA, Hays County would allocate $100,000 to the BSEACD toward the well, which could result in a revised Groundwater Availability Model (GAM) for the county by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB).
Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley, who proposed the agenda item, said the well was “responsible and appropriate” to promote the “health and well-being of our residents.”
“It’s a smart investment,” Conley said. “One hundred thousand dollars to develop a long term strategy (for aquifer impact studies) is money well spent.”
Hays County’s new study well would allow scientists to collect data over time that will aid future scientists in aquifer preservation.
A multi-port monitoring well is constructed so that scientists can measure the water at different levels throughout the well.
According to a TWDB representative, for scientists to learn about the aquifer system, they must collect data from multiple test sites in order to get a better picture of how the system works and how it’s affected.
TWDB representative said that there are already two operating multi-port monitoring wells in Hays County; a third is currently being constructed in Buda. Funding for the wells are partially paid by state grants and different entities.
Eight people supported the county’s measure for the monitoring well during public comment.
Some residents were confused about the language of the agenda item and were concerned over where funding from the county was coming from. They also questioned what the final cost to taxpayers would be.
John Cobb, Judge Bert Cobb’s son, focused on the need for Hays County to pay off its $330 million debt before getting involved in financing water issues.
“Why is groundwater a county issue?” said John Cobb.
Bert Cobb supported the need for a multi-port monitoring well, but opposed the measure based on the need for more financial calculations on the county’s part.
He was questioned as to why the county should help fund the well’s construction.
“We need to worry about the quality of water, not just the quantity of water,” Cobb said, “I’d like to see the budget for that well.”
Some comments centered on residents’ concerns regarding inadequate science to determine if the city of Dripping Springs’ proposed discharge permit into Walnut Springs would adversely affect their drinking water.
Richard Beggs, of Dripping Springs, said people in his community are worried about their children’s health if the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) grants Dripping Springs’ discharge permit.
Beggs held concerns Dripping Springs was reticent to accept more science is needed before a source of recharge for the Trinity is compromised.
“There is an issue with Dripping Springs’ transparency,” Beggs said.