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Windy Hill water woes worry Kyle residents

Concerns over the local water supply were raised Dec. 11 as Hays County residents questioned the contractual relationship between Goforth Special Utility District (SUD) and Houston-based water firm Electro Purification (EP).

At issue was the Kyle Planning and Zoning Commission taking up a preliminary plan for the Trails of Windy Hills subdivision, a DR Horton Project, that will receive water from Goforth SUD. 

A development agreement involving Windy Hills had been reviewed by the Kyle City Council in 2018, and was later brought to P&Z for additional approval. The P&Z granted the approval and the plan is scheduled to go back before the council later this year. The planned development came before P&Z with recommendation for approval from Hays County personnel and the Kyle city council.

Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell said the plan came before the council first instead of the P&Z because

“the agreement had aspects that needed to be determined and agreed upon that were outside the scope of planning and zoning, so we worked out those details before asking them (P&Z) to recommend it.”

Usually before a development comes before the council, the P&Z and staff review it.

However, questions were raised by residents at the P&Z meeting as to where Goforth SUD will obtain water to supply the new subdivision.

Members of activist group Save Our Wells (SOW) said the water supply in Kyle is likely to be in danger if wells and natural waterways in the area are used for incoming subdivisions.

“This particular subdivision is being supplied with water from Goforth SUD,” said Save Our Wells representative Lila Knight, who attended the P&Z meeting. “Goforth SUD does not have water. According to their own engineer’s report, they will have used 90 percent of their water supply by the summer of 2019.”

Knight said SOW has not been able to determine if Goforth SUD has secured another water supply. The Hays Free Press reached out multiple times to Goforth SUD officials for comment, but there was no response prior to press time.

EP, which was at the center of the 2013 Hays County water wars, that year filed a permit request with the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) to pump close to a billion gallons of water annually from the Trinity Aquifer at well sites in western Hays County. The BSEACD oversees production permits from areas of the Trinity Aquifer that had formerly been unregulated prior to the passage of House Bill 3405 in 2015.

EP is now awaiting a decision from the State Office of Administrative Hearings on its permit request after BSEACD officials approved a contested case hearing, said Edmond McCarthy, an attorney representing EP. A hearing on EP’s permit is scheduled for the end of September.

“Goforth currently has a contract (with EP) to get water from Hays County, which is in the permit,” McCarthy said.

Kyle resident Dana Poppy also worried about how local water supplies will be impacted by EP’s permit. 

“A lot of the wells in that area, it’s known for a fact, they’re going to go dry,” Poppy said. “They are going to go dry from sucking water out of our wells and selling it to Goforth, that ultimately will go (to the new subdivision.)”

Howard Koontz, Kyle director of planning and development, said the subdivision is in an unincorporated part of the county, and is being annexed into the Shadow Creek Municipal Utility District (MUD).

“Shadow Creek has capacity, currently, in their wastewater treatment plant that is on their site,” Koontz said. “These lots will be on a public sewer system. The water will be treated and then the effluent will go through tributary.”

Koontz confirmed that the subdivision’s other water needs are under contract with Goforth SUD.

“The engineer has stated in an email that says Goforth has or will have adequate facilities for this development,” Koontz said. “Goforth SUD has signed another water contract with GBRA. The city doesn’t have any oversight with this agreement. We cannot poison their agreement by being an obtrusive third party.”

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