Groundwater Conservation Districts Ensure a Vital Resource is Fairly and Responsibly Distributed

groundwaterUnder Texas law, the “rule of capture” allows landowners to pump and use the water beneath their property without limitation. Landowners don’t own the groundwater, but they can “capture” all the water that is available under their land without regard to the effect it has on neighboring wells. When someone can afford to drill a large well with a big pump, it becomes clear that the “rule of capture” benefits those few who can afford to do so, and leaves the smaller neighboring wells at their mercy. Groundwater conservation districts were authorized by the Texas Legislature in 1949 and 1985 to address this problem. These districts have the authority to regulate, conserve, protect, recharge, and prevent waste of underground water.

Western Travis County is part of 8 regions designated as a priority groundwater management area (PGMA) due to the likelihood that it will experience a critical shortage of groundwater at some point. Even though the Travis County Commissioner’s Court has been discussing the creation of a GCD since 2001, a GCD has not yet been created. This is due in part to the fact that since my opponent, Paul Workman, has been in office, he has promised to file legislation that would create one, but every time he proposes it, he exempts large areas that would continue to threaten the fair distribution of groundwater, which dooms its passage. See 2011 (HB3822); 2013 (HB2640); and 2015 (HB4038).

If elected, I would fight to create a GCD for Western Travis County, to ensure that a vital resource on which everyone depends is fairly and responsibly regulated.

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