WATER: Protecting one of our most precious resources



From left, area geologist Arthur Troell and Evergreen Underground Water Conservation District directors, Larry Fox and Jay Troell. The trio addressed the 84th Legislature regarding concerns about Texas House Bill 30 and its possible ramifications regarding the future of underground water in this area.

From left, area geologist Arthur Troell and Evergreen Underground Water Conservation District directors, Larry Fox and Jay Troell. The trio addressed the 84th Legislature regarding concerns about Texas House Bill 30 and its possible ramifications regarding the future of underground water in this area.

Wouldn’t it be so nice and convenient for a city to increase its future water supply by simply finding a convenient, close-by source and taking whatever they want. San Antonio Water System (SAWS) is working on this in Southern Bexar County, Atascosa and Wilson Counties with its proposed brackish water treatment program.

What is bothersome is the loss of our own possibilities and rights to tap this Lower Wilcox reservoir in future years when the need will likely arise.

Geological studies indicate that while SAWS would be drawing water out of the Lower Wilcox, it will eventually be drawing from the Carrizo Sands – and there goes our fresh water supply.

Current water regulations and district rules at this time would prevent SAWS from encroaching on the Carrizo with large-scale brackish water production. SAWS is trying to run through legislation in House Bill 30, Sec. 36.1015, b(2) whereby the permitting would be 30 years instead of 5 years and allow unlimited withdrawals and rates of withdrawals.

Also, SAWS proposed legislation in HB 30 states, “The Desired Future Conditions (DFC’s) do not apply to brackish groundwater production in designated backish groundwater production zones.” The DFC’s are one item used in issuing pumping permits.

Three Atascosa County citizens, EUWCD directors Jay Troell and Larry Fox, along with Arthur Troell, area geologist,recently testified before the legislature regarding their concerns about HB 30 proposals.

By no means are we not interested in seeing our neighbor, the City of San Antonio, addressing its future needs of water. We’re all for it, but not through the methods they are presently using to accomplish their goals in water procurement.

SAWS actually has a better alternative, that being the Gulf Coast desalination plant.

We need water in the future for Poteet strawberries, Floresville peanuts and water to fill stock tanks in the enormous local cattle industry.

Larry Fox, Atascosa County Director at EUWCD added, “The fresh water Carrizo, which is the Upper Wilcox, overlies the brackish Lower Wilcox.

“The Black & Veach Report for SAWS on two separate brackish water projects predicted a pressure drawdown in the Lower Wilcox ranging a minimum of 100 to a maximum of 700 feet and covers practically the entire area of Atascosa and Wilson Counties plus part of additional counties not in the district – over a thousand square miles.

“This report makes no mention of the effect this pumping will have on the Carrizo. If brackish water production would have little to no effect on the Carrizo, I am certain it would have been included but it was not.

“Geologic studies by reputable geologists indicate the Carrizo will be adversely affected over time as the pressure in the Lower Wilcox is reduced by large-scale pumping.”

Arthur Troell, area geologist said, “When addressing House Bill 30 in Austin, before the House Committee, concerning the brackish water bill, I showed them maps and cross sections of work that had been done here by Richard Hargis and others and myself. We had studied this and it is my opinion, based on geological evidence, that when they start pumping that brackish water out from underneath the Carrizo Aquifer and since it directly underlies the Carrizo, and in northwestern Atascosa County from about Poteet west to the county line and north to the county line and south, to some degree, toward Jourdanton, that they would be lowering pressure. Eventually, Carrizo fresh water is going to go down and be pumped out along with the brackish water that they’re pumping out east of there at the aquifer storage unit in South Bexar County. Essentially, the Carrizo will leak down. This ultimately will impact our water supply that we depend on. The future of Atascosa and neigboring counties depends on groundwater. And if San Antonio pumps our groundwater out from underneath these rural counties ultimately they will impact the future potential of these smaller counties that border Bexar County.

“Our State Representative, Ryan Guillen has been very helpful to us in supporting our efforts to protect Atascosa and neighboring counties. He’s been down here and met with us several times and that was certainly appreciated.”

Jay Troell, Atascosa County Director of the Evergreen Underground Water Conservation District (EUWCD) said, “In the still horse-and-buggy times, the Texas Supreme Court in the case ‘Houston & T.C. Railway co. v. East’ ruled against East which created the Rule of Capture, also referred to as the Rule of the Biggest Pump.

“I believe now established geologic science provides the means to make intelligent decisions about underground aquifers. This knowledge was not available in 1904.

The Evergreen District has sponsored and paid for major geologic studies that have better defined the Carrizo and Wilcox Aquifers.

“At this time, in the year 2015, we need to take advantage of the current hydrologists’ knowledge and studies and not see their research “thrown out the window”.

“Ground water conservation districts are the state’s preferred method of groundwater management through rules.

“Unlimited withdrawals and rates of withdrawal would mean ‘No regulation’. The Evergreen district’s future water needs may well depend on the use of this brackish water and it should be fairly and equitably administered by local authorities.”

Jay Troell said, “After 110 years of agricultural production, the level of the Carrizo is affecting our farmers with higher production costs and lower profit margins. Any negative impact on the Carrizo from large scale pumping of the Lower Wilcox will contribute to ever-increasing production costs whereby farmers can no longer afford to irrigate, severely impacting our economy and growth potential.”

“Underground water districts operate on a ‘Five Year Permit Cycle.’ This allows districts to react to detrimental changes in the aquifer and make appropriate modifications to permits. HB 30 would provide for a minimum term of 30 years for a permit.

“This will eliminate any chance to review a permit even if new rules are promulgated for an aquifer. Five (5) year permits are reviewed at the end of each term and amended if necessary. It is not fair or equitable to allow a 30-year permit holder to avoid rules that five (5) year permit holders may be required to follow if rule changes are required.’ Signage on Interstate 37 just south of Hardy Rd. in Bexar County.


Property where San Antonio Water System has drilled two of numerous water wells in the area. At left is EUWCD director Larry Fox pointing to a SAWS Carrizo well. At the right, EUWCD director Jay Troell points to a SAWS brackish water well in the Lower Wilcox with Geologist Arthur Troell looking on.

Property where San Antonio Water System has drilled two of numerous water wells in the area. At left is EUWCD director Larry Fox pointing to a SAWS Carrizo well. At the right, EUWCD director Jay Troell points to a SAWS brackish water well in the Lower Wilcox with Geologist Arthur Troell looking on.

 

 

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