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Region J - GMA 9 Conflict

By Dave Pasley

Published: Friday, November 6, 2009 11:13 AM CST

Another round in a battle between Hill Country water planners was fought in Kerrville Monday at a Texas Water Development Board hearing.

The conflict centers on a decision about “desired future conditions” made on Aug. 29, 2008, by the executive committee of Groundwater Management Area 9, which is made up of one representative from each of the groundwater districts in Kendall, Bandera, Blanco, Comal, Hays, Kendall, Kerr, Medina, Travis and northern Bexar counties.

The GMA-9 committee voted to set a desired future condition of “no net increase in average drawdown” for what is known as the Edwards-Trinity (Plateau) Aquifer. The Plateau Water Planning Group and the Upper Guadalupe River Authority, both based in Kerr County, contend that would be unreasonably burdensome for property owners in western Kerr County.

Led by Kerr County Precinct 3 Commissioner Jonathan Letz, the Plateau Group and the river authority appealed to the TWDB to overturn the GMA-9 decision.

In September Cow Creek GCD directors sent a letter to the TWDB protesting the appeals and taking the TWDB to task for waiving the deadline and accepting the appeals.

Monday’s hearing was held to allow TWDB officials to hear arguments from officials on both sides of the conflict.

Letz said a no-net increase drawdown scenario for the Edwards-Trinity (Plateau) Aquifer would mean that just 46 domestic wells could be drilled in a large swath of western Kerr County. He also said GMA-9 had not complied with TWDB rules in arriving at its decision and alleged that one meeting of the planning group was improperly posted, violating the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Blanco-Pedernales Groundwater Conservation District General Manager Ron Fieseler countered with the GMA-9 position. He presented nine reasons why no net increase in average drawdown for the Edwards-Trinity (Plateau) Aquifer is reasonable. He also said the decision was made in accordance with TWDB rules and procedures.

Cow Creek General Manager Micah Voulgaris said the contention about the 46 wells was misleading because it assumes an unusually large amount of pumping from each well and disregards the option for a landowner to drill through the relatively shallow Edwards-Trinity (Plateau) formation to reach underlying water-bearing aquifers.

The Edwards-Trinity (Plateau) Aquifer extends westward from the Balcones Fault Zone and covers many West Texas counties. Kendall County is on the southeastern edge of the plateau. Below the Edwards Plateau is the Trinity Aquifer, which is the primary source of groundwater in Kendall, Kerr, Comal and Bandera counties and in the northern portion of Bexar County. A portion of the aquifer known as the Middle Trinity underlies all of Kendall County and most wells in the county draw from that portion of the aquifer.

However, two fingers of the Edwards Trinity poke into Kendall County from the west, one in the northern portion of the county and the other in the southern portion, in an area that ends roughly with the watershed of Upper Cibolo Creek above Boerne City Lake.

Cow Creek Board President Tommy Mathews says it is vitally important to residents in the Cow Creek District to have planning documents that state a desired future condition of “no net increase in average drawdown” for the Edwards-Trinity because the flow from springs, like Champee Springs, originates in the Edwards limestone and are a primary source of the water in Cibolo Creek which feeds Boerne City Lake, a primary source of drinking water for the City of Boerne.

“We need to protect that resource,” Mathews said.

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