“Our Culture, Our Economy and our Water Use”
Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District and our Partners have set the 21st Bell County Water Symposium for November 16, 2022, in Belton at the Bell County Expo on Loop 121. The theme of this year’s event is “Our Culture, Our Economy and our Water Use”.
The legacy partners of the annual event are the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Bell County, the Bell County Engineers Office, and the Bell County Commissioners Court. We also have additional sponsors who have been so very supportive in years past.
The water symposium has been a mainstay in Bell County since 2001 and continues to be an event that provides insight into water providers, regulatory responsibilities of each, local & regional water strategies, and ultimately a place for all stakeholders to attend and understand the magnitude of our shared role in meeting the regional needs of water to the many communities and industries of Central Texas.
The Keynote of the Day will be delivered by Dr. Gabriel Eckstein, Professor of Law at Texas A&M University and Director of the law school’s Energy, Environmental & Natural Resources Systems Law Program. He has focused his research and teaching on water, natural resources, environmental law, and policy issues at the local, national, and international levels.
Having somebody of His stature speak on the issues and challenges of “water battles” from both an Internationally and Domestic perspective adds a new dimension to our conference. His insightful description of international water rights challenges and examples of how those are mitigated. Hopefully, the attendees glean from his comments paths of understanding how other countries resolve or don’t resolve their differences in disputes over both surface water and groundwater.
Dr. Eckstein regularly advises United Nations Agencies, national and sub-national governments, NGOs, and other groups in the U.S. and international water and environmental issues. He currently serves as the Immediate Past President of the International Water Resources Association, on the Executive Council of the International Association for Water Law, as Associate Editor for Brill Research Perspectives: International Water Law, and on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Water Law.
Dr. Eckstein holds a Juris Doctor and an LL.M. in International Environmental Law, an M.S. in International Affairs, and a B.A. in Geology. At Texas A&M University, Eckstein also serves as an Associated Professor with the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Public Service, and Administration Department; Research Fellow with the Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy at The Bush School of Government and Public Service; Graduate Faculty Member for the Texas A&M Water Management & Hydrological Science program; and Affiliated Faculty with the Texas A&M Energy Institute.
The Honorable Bell County Judge, David Blackburn, will welcome the day’s attendees and give us an update and understanding of the growth in our County which is a serious concern of citizens living in the unincorporated rural areas. Judge Blackburn is a key leader in Bell County who is helping all communities navigate the need to understand many issues related to our expanding population, our demand for new developments, and the need to supply water in a sustainable fashion. Judge Blackburn, in his many roles as County Judge, represents the county’s interest in the Regional Water Planning Group known as Brazos G which participates in the State Water Planning Process. Judge Blackburn is a key leader in Bell County who is helping all communities navigate the need to understand many issues related to our expanding population, our demand for new developments, and the need to supply water in a sustainable fashion.
Our first speakers of the morning will be Mr. David Collinsworth, General Manager & CEO of the Brazos River Authority, and Mr. Brad Brunett, BRA’s Lower & Central Basin Regional Manager. They jointly provide an update on BRA’s Water Management Strategies including but not limited to the recent announcement of the “Belhouse Drought Preparedness Project”. This project is a planned water transport system linking Lake Belton to Stillhouse Hollow Lake and has been planned for years to provide access to water where it is needed. It is designed to delay the need for the development of additional new sources of water, including the building of new reservoirs, which could cost millions, if not billions of dollars, and may not be feasible.
Following the update from our friends at BRA, we will have a very enlightening presentation by Mr. Ricky Garrett, General Manager for Bell County Water Control Improvement District #1. The District is a conservation district and political subdivision of the State of Texas, created under the provisions of Article XVI, Section 59, of the Constitution of Texas and operates under the provisions of Chapter 9005, Texas Special District Laws Code, and Chapters 49 and 51 of the Texas Water Code. He will focus on the history and significance of the district as Camp Hood became Ft. Hood and now Ft. Cavazos. In 1949, the US Corps of Engineers began construction to develop Lake Belton and on a similar schedule began construction for the first intake and water plant on Lake Belton.
Initially, the Department of the Army was the water provider for the surrounding civilian communities. As the population continued to grow, the Army was denied approval to continue being the water provider. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the City of Killeen’s population increased from 1,265 residents in 1940 to 7,194 in 1950, and City and government officials estimated the population would increase to 20,000 by 1955.
Bell County WCID#1 is a conservation district and political subdivision of the State of Texas, created under the provisions of Article XVI, Section 59, of the Constitution of Texas and operates under the provisions of Chapter 9005, Texas Special District Laws Code, and Chapter 49 & 51 of the Texas Water Code.
In addition, myself and our Board President, Leland Gersbach will present and update on the groundwater resources across the county and provide specifics on the new rules and management zones recently adopted by the District. Clearwater will present updated data per our most recent studies conducted and funded by the district to address many of the new understandings of the depletion of artesian pressure in the Trinity Aquifer in the most southwestern portions of our County. This issue has been discussed annually in a collaborative effort with our Legislators, County Judges and Commissioners of Bell County, other Groundwater Conservation Districts, and the geoscience consulting community in the four-county area.
We round out the morning’s program, before lunch, with a panel of experts who will have an open discussion on groundwater demands, well construction, legal challenges, well owner concerns and permitting by both GCDs and TCEQ as it pertains to public water supply wells.
Following a catered lunch, several other presentations in the daylong event will specifically address the following:
- Texas Climatic Trends and Drought Predictions for 2022 and Beyond by Dr. John Nielson-Gammon, Texas State Climatologist,
- Texas State Water Planning & Brazos G Regional Planning by Dr. Tony Smith, Associate Vice President, Carollo Engineers,
- Aquifer and You, Study of the Middle Trinity Aquifer and It’s Users by Dr. Joe Yelderman, Baylor University Geosciences and Dr. Logan Yelderman, Professor of Psychology, Prairie View A&M University and Mr. Will Brewer, Graduate Assistant Baylor University Geosciences.
The Board of Directors of Clearwater UWCD looks forward to another year of showcasing the importance of both surface water and groundwater to our robust economy coupled with the untethered growth and demands occurring along the IH35 corridor. Call 254-933-0120 or email Tristin Smith at email@example.com to reserve your seat by November 10, 2022.