SAWS brackish groundwater strategy?

It became obvious while attending the February 5 meeting of the South Central Texas Regional Water Planning Group, a.k.a. Region L, San Antonio Water System has a strategy to move forward with their Expanded Brackish Ground Water Project. In spite of a potential $4 billion dollars for a pipeline to bring Carrizo fresh water from Burleson County in their Vista Ridge Project, SAWS has plans for additional brackish groundwater. Due to contract terms allowing withdrawal from the Vista Ridge Project, SAWS may be hedging their options for Expanded Brackish Groundwater (BGW) from the Evergreen district.

A little background: Region L is a planning group authorized by the Texas Water Development Board for regional water planning purposes. “The South Central Texas Regional Water Planning Area consists of Atascosa, Bexar, Caldwell, Calhoun, Comal, Dewitt, Dimmit, Frio, Goliad, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Karnes, Kendall, La Salle, Medina, Refugio, Uvalde, Victoria, Wilson, Zavala and part of Hays Counties.” The Evergreen UWCD is made up of the highlighted counties.

SAWS is using Region L to incorporate their Expanded BGW project in the recommended state water plan as an Alternative Project. To achieve Recommended status SAWS must have 50,000 acre-feet of BGW available in the Desired Future Condition of the Evergreen District. Groundwater Management Area 13 is responsible for developing the DFC for the Evergreen district and other members of GMA 13. GMA 13 includes most of the South Central Texas groundwater districts including Evergreen UWCD. The Evergreen District will be asked to approve the proposed Desired Future Condition within the next year for review by the Texas Water Development Board.

SAWS convinced Groundwater Management Area 13 (GMA 13) board members to allow 50,000 acre-feet of BGW to be modeled in the DFC for the Evergreen UWCD. SAWS is paying GMA 13’s consultant to incorporate 50,000 BGW in the Evergreen Modeled Available Groundwater (MAG).

SAWS representative to Region L stated they intend to request Recommended status for the their Expanded Brackish Water project if the Desired Future Condition for GMA 13 includes 50,000 acre-feet of brackish water in the Evergreen UWCD. SAWS Expanded BGW project would then have Texas Water Development Board support and SAWS will be able to get state funding with a very favorable interest rate from the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT).

SAWS own consulting engineers, Black & Veach, published the Expanded Brackish Groundwater project report for a 50-well field in Wilson County over 20 miles from Pleasanton. This report shows a 300 ft. pressure drawdown in the Wilcox Aquifer at the edge of Pleasanton. Atascosa County would be affected by a 50,000 acre-feet well field in Wilson County as far west as Charlotte.

An Evergreen UWCD Desired Future Condition with 50,000 acre-feet of BGW could lead to SAWS Expanded Brackish Groundwater Project with potential negative consequences for fresh groundwater in Atascosa County.

We must continue our vigilance to protect our groundwater.

JAY TROELL, P.E. is an Atascosa Director of the Evergreen Underground Water Conservation District. This is his personal opinion and not necessarily the position of the Evergreen Underground Water Conservation District.

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