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. This announcement is the second in a series of news related to the Annual Water Symposium. 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.

Due to the magnitude of the current Drought, Dr. Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas State Climatologist, will provide a very in-depth look at the current drought and the dire predictions for the coming year as it relates to the La Nino. Dr. Nielsen-Gammon is a Regents Professor at Texas A&M University, Director of the Southern Regional Climate Center, and the Texas State Climatologist.

Dr. Nielsen-Gammon grew up in Northern California and went to school in Massachusetts, receiving a Ph.D. from MIT in 1990. Dr. Nielsen-Gammon joined the faculty of Texas A&M University in 1991 and was appointed Texas State Climatologist by then-Governor George W. Bush in 2000. He is now serving a two-year term as President of the American Association of State Climatologists. He was named a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society in 2011.

Dr. Nielsen-Gammon researches large-scale and local-scale weather, climate, and air pollution, focusing on intense rainfall and droughts. He teaches weather analysis and forecasting courses, climate, climate change, and computer modeling.

Nielsen-Gammon has been asked to address the La Niña conditions in the Pacific Ocean and his predictions for a continued drought that is expected to continue into 2023 possibly mimicking the epic drought of 2011-2012. La Niña means Little Girl in Spanish or simply “a cold event.” La Niña has the opposite effect of El Niño. During La Niña events, trade winds are even stronger than usual, pushing more warm water toward Asia. Off the west coast of the Americas, upwelling increases, bringing cold, nutrient-rich water to the surface.

These cold waters in the Pacific push the jet stream northward. This tends to lead to drought in the southern U.S. and heavy rains and flooding in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. During a La Niña year, winter temperatures are warmer than normal in the South and cooler than normal in the North. La Niña can also lead to a more severe hurricane season.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

Before lunch, we round out the morning’s program 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 Its 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 to reserve your seat by November 10, 2022.