By David Patterson
There are so many subdivisions and individual owners in Hays County that may have to redrill wells during an extended drought because of unprecedented growth.
We know the cities along I-35 in Hays County; Buda, Kyle, and San Marcos will receive water from the Wilcox/Carrizo pipeline project. However, that will not help those residents who do not live in a city. What is your plan for these folks? Do we even know how many Hays County residents whose only source of water is from either public or private wells?
Michelle Gutierrez Cohen
I am in favor of subsidizing rainwater harvesting systems.
We really do not know how many local households depend solely on well water, and there is no way to ever ascertain this, as many of our wells were drilled before records were kept.
We need to embed rainwater harvesting into our County Subdivision Regulations, so that all new construction is already equipped to fully utilize rainwater as either a sole source, or a supplemental, water supply.
These costs must be simply part of doing business in Hays County, and must be borne primarily by the developers. We cannot continue to allow residential and commercial developers to come into our communities, without any concern for what their projects will do to the lives, lands and water of the People Who Live Here Now.
Low to no-cost loans, grants, and subsidies should be made available to homeowners to drill their wells deeper, or if they preferred, they could convert their water system to rainwater harvesting.
First we need to get an estimate of just how many people in Hays County are not connected to any city water and will be most affected by a multi-year drought. There is not a single solution. We have to solve this problem in a variety of ways.
First, I would work to raise awareness about how important water conservation is. I would encourage developers to do larger lots and xeriscaping instead of lawns. We also need to encourage whole house rainwater catchment systems, because they are a viable alternative to wells. During a multi-year drought, your well might go dry. However, with rainwater collection you will have a large water tank that can be filled by a potable water truck.
Currently you cannot get a mortgage on a house whose only source for water is rainwater. That needs to change.
I have had discussions with land owners to figure out how the county can incentive willing landowners to clear as much cedar off their property as possible. The cedar draws so much water on a daily basis. Also working with federal agencies to get removed the FHA loan requirement that rainwater collection cannot be your only source for water which requires additional wells to be drilled.
When EP was looking to sell water out of the Wimberley valley, I was able to work with two of their three customers to get water provided by other sources, preserving the Wimberley valley.
The ground water districts keep as accurate records as possible but the county does not have the authority or require wells be registered. In the past, citizens have been reluctant to register their wells. I will continue to work with developers to encourage them to have as large lot sizes as possible for homes, set aside green space, while asking them how the county can help them accomplish these goals. I will request developers do as much research as possible to be able to address the impact on surrounding wells, however without zoning or site development authority, we are limited to what we can require.