texas groundwater news oct-nov 18

Water management

  • [There’s been a mild rash of groundwater articles concerning Texas relating to oil and gas, and they almost always muff up how we regulate groundwater in Texas…]
  • “Texas has a “Rule of Capture,” where landowners basically can pump water from below their properties and pump as much as they like. So, it’s easier to obtain a permit in Texas, and that has led to the movement of water from Texas into New Mexico.”
    • [Areas in Texas without a groundwater conservation district are not required to get a permit.]
  • “Other parts of Texas form Groundwater Districts, which help regulate the Rule of Capture, so a specific landowner doesn’t drain one area to supply another.”
    • [This is generally not the goal of groundwater conservation districts.]
  • “Many Groundwater Districts ban exports out of their districts, unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you see the issue.”
    • [Groundwater conservation districts are forbidden by Texas law from banning  the export of groundwater. One exception is the Edwards Aquifer Authority {which some, including the Authority, argue is not a district} who does ban export.]

EPCOR USA Selected as Operator of Vista Ridge Project

  • “EPCOR USA Inc. (EPCOR USA), a wholly owned subsidiary of EPCOR Utilities Inc. (EPCOR), today announced that it has been approved by the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) to operate the Vista Ridge Project (Vista Ridge), a 143-mile wholesale water supply pipeline that delivers groundwater to the community of San Antonio, Texas.”
  • “EPCOR USA will also acquire a minority ownership interest in Vista Ridge, the largest water supply public-private partnership (P3) project in the nation.”
  • “EPCOR owns and operates nearly 3,300 miles of water distribution, wholesale water transmission, and sanitary collection mains and transmission pipeline infrastructure across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.”

Water experts call for mindfulness at 18th Bell County Water Symposium

  • “’Groundwater is the future. Period,’ said Charles Porter, author and assistant professor at St. Edwards University in Austin”
  • “For me, it’s not only a huge public policy issue, but it’s quite personal,” [Representative] Buckley said, referring to a well at his Salado home. “It’s been a personal experience with what happens to our groundwater in times of drought.
    “It’s not a matter of if we’ll be in drought, but when in Texas.”

Hill Country Water and West Lake Hills

  • “The city of West Lake Hills gets its water supply from Lake Austin through the city of Austin, but most rural Travis County residents to our west depend on Trinity Aquifer wells for their domestic water supply. West Lake Hills has its share of Trinity wells, but most of those are used for landscape irrigation or are idle.”
  • “During the most recent legislative session, the Southwestern Travis County Groundwater Conservation District was established and a temporary board was appointed. If confirmed, the district will be the 100th in the state. If not, the area will remain subject to the ‘rule of capture.'”
  • “…Travis County has partnered with the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District to conduct a Trinity Aquifer groundwater study in southwestern Travis County. Hydrologists are collecting information on wells, including basic water quality data and water levels. Water level tracking is particularly important in the Edwards and Trinity aquifers to help understand how aquifers respond to drought and flooding.”
  • “When well owners and policy makers understand groundwater dynamics, they can better coordinate conservation and manage groundwater resources for everyone.”

Groundwater could fuel future U.S.-Mexico conflict

  • “Bi-nationally there is no treaty on groundwater between Mexico and the United States. But that doesn’t mean groundwater’s not being used! It’s used, and it’s getting used more every day.”
  • “Rosario Sanchez of Texas A&M says that as the climate warms, groundwater in the region could become a source of conflict between the U.S. and Mexico. But to regulate aquifers that cross the border, both countries need to learn more about them.”

Rule Change All Wet?

  • “Some North Texans steamed while discussing water recently. Life itself depends upon water, and suspicions and frustrations can boil over whenever such a valuable commodity becomes more scarce and expensive. The water found in underground aquifers around North Texas is limited, diminishing, and becoming more regulated.”
  • “Shaw and his district cohorts are hosting a series of public hearings in Hood, Montague, Parker, and Wise counties, where they are viewed as either heroes, annoying bureaucrats, or overreaching villains.”
  • “More wells were drilled in Parker County [in recent years] than in any other county in the state – about 625 wells a year,” Shaw said.
  • “Water wells for family residences must be drilled on a minimum of two acres. Shaw’s group, however, wants to more than double the minimum acreage required to five. The thinking is, the fewer straws that tap into the aquifer, the longer the groundwater will last. “

Austin Water hoping to store drinking water underground with ‘Aquifer Storage and Recovery’

  • “What IS in the plan — concepts like rainwater collection and water re-usage. … as Meszaros describes it, storing billions of gallons of drinking water underground.  Something called Aquifer Storage and Recovery.”
  • “‘Have a strategic reserve of water that will help us meet resiliency both in terms of drought as well as times of river quality upset as we experienced here recently,’ Meszaros said.”
  • “‘If we can manage our use and preserve it then the idea that we wouldn’t have to take from another community, that we could just manage within our own resources strikes me as the Austin way, not pitting one city against another city and not stealing some resource from another city in order to benefit us,’ Pool said.”

AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION FROM THE HIGH PLAINS AQUIFER IS WORTH OVER $3 BILLION PER YEAR

  • “Recent research (Garcia, Fulginiti and Perrin, 2018) has shown that the extra agricultural production from irrigation across the High Plains Aquifer (HPA) was worth about $3.5 billion in 2007, $2 billion of which was produced in Nebraska. The aquifer water is valuable!”

Eastern New Mexico water pipeline project awarded $4M

  • “Members of the state’s congressional delegation say the money represents the largest single-year award from the agency to the Ute pipeline project, bringing the federal contribution so far to more than $20 million.”
  • “Decades in the making, the project aims to ease the strain on the Ogallala aquifer along the Texas-New Mexico border by tapping into Ute Reservoir.”
  • “Critics say the cost will outweigh the benefits as runoff that feeds the reservoir could be uncertain as drought persists.”

Company hopes to build seawater desalination plant along coast; Port Aransas mayor not convinced

  • “Desalination water plants are not new to Texas. In fact, the state has 46 desalination plants that convert brackish water to useable water for cities, according to the Texas Water Development Board. What Texas doesn’t have is a seawater desalination plant on the coast that would have the capacity to convert 60 million gallons of seawater a day for city use. Some argue that this is the only drought-proof water solution.”
  • “Seven Seas Water, a private company, hopes to build a seawater desalination plant on the coast in the city of Port Aransas.”
  • “So that’s groundwater; eventually that does have to be replenished by rainwater and through the aquifers, where seawater, of course, is, for all intents and purposes, unlimited,” Whiting said.
  • “The company is already leasing land on Harbor Island from a private foundation. For the next 18 months, they will be working on getting their permits through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Army Corps of Engineers.”
  • “If green lighted, the company hopes to sell the water to the city of Corpus Christi and surrounding areas, even with the possibility of selling to San Antonio in the far future. The plant would be designed to convert 20 million to 60 million gallons of seawater for municipal use a day. If all permitting is approved and Corpus Christi bites on a water sale, Seven Seas hopes to be built and running in 2 1/2 years.”

RESULTS: Here’s who will comprise the new Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District board

  • [I don’t generally post groundwater conservation district election results, but this one is special. Opponents to the district’s rules succeeded in changing the district’s enabling legislation to require the election of board members {which were previously appointed}, and those opponents have successfully taken over the district board. Stay tuned for more drama as the board seeks to loosen up its pumping restrictions, scuttle a water deal with the San Jacinto River Authority, and cause more land subsidence, potentially earning the concern of the subsidence district to the south…]
  • “Jim Spigener takes the seat for Place 2 with 59 percent of the vote. For Place 3, voters cast 44.97 percent of ballots in support of Jon Paul Bouche. Additionally, Jonathan Prykryl and Harry Hardman have been elected to places 4 and 5 with 63.40 percent and 39.41 percent of the votes, respectively. Former Conroe Mayor Webb Melder takes Place 6 with 61.25 percent of the vote, and Larry Rogers takes Place 7 with 54.26 percent of the vote.”
  • “’The good people of Montgomery County have spoken…they have had enough of [San Jacinto River Authority and Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District] out-of-control style of government,’ Melder said on the night of the election.”

Texas Voices: Scott Wade ‘Dirty Car Artist’

  • “‘I lived on a long dirt road for 20 years. And cars were always dirty. But what are you going to do? Wash them? No. Besides, you live on the aquifer so you don’t want to waste water,’ said Wade.”

State population growth raises issues for agriculture, land owners

  • “We’re going to need new power plants, new water, swimming pools, the whole thing,” Bradbury said. “As these cities get bigger, they’re going to need more and more water and they’re going to come get it from rural Texas.”
  • “When people buy and sell properties they need to find out if the groundwater has been reserved and taken away just like minerals, Bradbury said.”

Buda sets priorities for legislative session

  • “Loosening groundwater rules to allow for Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) is something Buda officials want the legislature to review.”
  • “In 2017, HB 3333, authored by State Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs), failed to go for a vote in the Texas House before Sine Die. The Hays Free Press reported the bill would have allowed Buda to build a water pipe that passes water through the Edwards Aquifer to the Trinity Aquifer, depositing “recharged” water into the Trinity for storage. Current groundwater rules stipulate water passing through the Edwards can only consist of untreated Edwards Aquifer water.”

Bankruptcy Forces 37,000 Acre Texas Ranch Sale; Worth $52 Million

  • “The inclusion of the previously unavailable but immensely valuable owned water rights in this property is a game changer and makes for an extremely unique and potentially revenue-rich investment opportunity with predicted income streams potentially worth many multiples beyond any surface value acquisition price,” says Icon Global’s founder Bernie Uechtritz.
  • “The property sits on the Capitan Reef Complex Aquifer and is capable of producing approximately 400,000 barrels of frac water per day. The ranch currently has a water lease with a developer that offers a 20% royalty for all water produced and sold from the ranch, the lease can be continued if desired.”

Big Donor Allowed To Endanger Water Supply With Nuclear Waste

  • “Our Energy secretary could ship treated nuclear waste from our nation’s most polluted nuclear weapons production site to a Texas nuclear dump near an aquifer supplying water from northern Texas to South Dakota. “
  • “Waste Control Specialists got state licenses in Texas in 2008 and 2009 to dispose of radioactive waste in a dump in Andrews County on the Texas-New Mexico border, adjacent to the giant URENCO USA nuclear enrichment facility at Eunice, N.M. “
  • “The dump is over or near the Ogallala Aquifer, depending on whether you believe the water table boundaries of the company or others.”
  • “Waste Control Specialists wants to take radioactive waste from the Hanford nuclear weapons complex in southeast Washington state, one of the most contaminated places on earth.”

SAN ANGELO, TEXAS, WASTEWATER PLANT TO BECOME A WATER SOURCE

  • “The Concho River Water Project “is a move to extend San Angelo’s sources beyond its lakes and the Hickory Aquifer,” according to a city news release.”
  • “According to San Angelo Standard-Times, “highly treated” water from the wastewater treatment plant would be released into the Concho River, mixing with the river’s water before being “recouped farther downstream and piped to the water treatment plant, where it will be treated to drinking standards.””
  • “The press release states officials recommended the Concho River project after studying two dozen alternatives, including surface water, groundwater and direct potable reuse options.”
  • “San Angelo uses about 12 million gal of water per day (mgd). The Hickory Aquifer is capable of producing 8 mgd and is being expanded to 12 mgd.”

Hundreds protest LCRA plan to pump and sell groundwater

  • “An estimated audience of 200 Bastrop and Lee County residents gathered last week to protest plans by the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) to join the growing ranks of water marketers who are threatening the viability of the region’s water resources.”
  • “LCRA is seeking to drill eight wells on the Griffith League Scout Ranch in Bastrop County in order to add up to 8 billion gallons of Simsboro groundwater each year to its 31-county water service area.”
  • “LCRA bought the rights to develop the Simsboro formation under the historic Republic of Texas ranch in early 2015 from the Capitol Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.”
  • “It is unfortunate the Boy Scouts turned to selling groundwater when their plans to more intensively develop the property went awry,” said Travis Brown, a Lee County director of the Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund (SAWDF), which supports aquifer protection and private property rights of landowners in their groundwater. “Mrs. Sanders would have been outraged, because of her dedication to preserving the land, water and trees on the ranch property.”
  • “Brown said at least 100 landowners have filed formal protests of the permit.”

Solving Global Water Crisis With Artificial Intelligence

  • [I tried using artificial neural networks some 15 years ago or so on the Edwards Aquifer and failed miserably, having issues with time delays and recumbent networks.]
  • “An observation was carried out at Edward’s karstic aquifer in Texas, US, with hydraulic ANN head change to forecast the groundwater level. The previous six days temperature and nearby wells pumping rates were taken as vectors for the experiment.”
  • article on using ANN on the Edwards

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