The Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District is hosting its 16th annual Bell County Water Symposium. This year’s event will be held November 16, 2016 beginning at 8:00 a.m. at the Texas A&M Central Texas Campus in Killeen located at 1901 S. Clear Creek Rd.  Co-sponsors include Texas Well Owner Network; Lloyd Gosselink Attorneys at Law; HALFF Associates; LBG-Guyton & Associates, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, the Bell County Engineer’s Office and Baylor University, Department of Geology.

This year’s theme is: “ASR a Reality for The Future Growth and Needs of Central Texas?”

Recently the House Research Organization of the Texas Legislature reported in their Interim News Briefs and update on the state studies of surface water loss and explores the potential for ASR.

In their news brief I quote “ASR involves collecting water during wet periods and storing it underground in an aquifer from which it can be drawn during periods of peak demand.”

According to the Texas Water Development Board, about 7.2 million acre-feet of water currently stored in surface water reservoirs evaporates in an average year. While surface reservoirs continue to feature prominently in the recently adopted 2017 state water plan, many consider ASR to have several advantages over reservoirs that justify its expanded use. In addition to resisting water loss through evaporation, ASR does not involve the acquisition and flooding of land above ground, which can be expensive and result in destruction of wildlife habitat and private property.

In 2015, the 84th Legislature enacted HB 655 by Lyle Larson, which resulted in several changes to the way ASR is regulated. The bill specified how ASR facilities must account for the water they inject and recover and the role of groundwater conservation districts in such projects. The new law establishes the same regulatory framework for all ASR projects, whether the source of the stored water is groundwater, surface water, or treated wastewater. The new law also prescribes measures designed to protect water quality in the receiving aquifer and modifies the requirement that water meet drinking water standards before being injected.

For the record CUWCD embraced this bill and believes that ASR is a critical strategy to help answer the regional question “How can we meet the growing need for water in both Bell and Williamson Counties. Growth in the entire IH35 corridor is eminent and water is limited.

In keeping with the challenges of managing groundwater by local districts, Clearwater UWCD has invited our neighboring groundwater district “Post Oak Savannah GCD”, who borders the jurisdiction of Clearwater to the east in Milam County. Mr. Gary Westbrook, General Manager for Post Oak Savanah GCD will provide our local leadership a positive perspective of they managed groundwater in both Milam and Burleson Counties. He will address how they are governed, funded and how they are managed. Having insight into how they approach groundwater research and understanding. Our goal is to showcase the positives of local management, local discernment, local accountability, and local oversight with local expertise. We are all guilty of stating we have “local control” which is a misnomer and very incorrect. Those who wish to see the State of Texas have complete control and oversight of groundwater, often state that small districts are not sophisticated enough nor equipped to make a difference in conserving and protecting the resource. Attendees will have a much deeper appreciation of groundwater management in Central Texas. Each presenter will provide the audience “why small districts are successful on meeting their obligations outlined in Chapter 36, Texas Water Code”.

In addition to the groundwater districts speaking, the symposium will have speakers from Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts, United States Geological Survey Water Science Team, Texas Water Development Board, Baylor University Hydrogeology Department, Texas AgriLife Research Blackland Center, Collier Consulting and LBG-Guyton & Associates.  The topics and discussions will provide attendees insight into the challenges that local leadership is faced with due to our growing population, cost of infrastructure, and demand on current water resources.

Additional topics include the following:

  • State of Groundwater Management in Bell County
  • Showcase of the Post Oak Savanah Groundwater Conservation District
  • ASR Options for Bell County and the Central Texas Area
  • Legislative Update and Changes in “Chapter 36 Texas Groundwater Code”
  • Groundwater Case Law, Court Decisions, Affirmation of Groundwater Management
  • An evolving Understanding of the Lower Trinity Aquifer
  • What we know now about the “Northern Segment of the Edwards BFZ Aquifer”
  • Status of the Salado Salamander in the Edwards BFZ Aquifer

 The water symposium is open to the public free of charge.

Please RSVP to the Clearwater Office at 254-933-0120 by November 11, 2016.

Pre-registering allows us to plan the free noon meal and breaks.