GROUNDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
|What is a Groundwater District and what does it do?
|Conservation districts in the area that control the Carrizo Aquifer are the Evergreen, the Gonzales, and the Guadalupe County
Groundwater Conservation District (the GCGCD). When the GCGCD was formed, it was decided to model our rule set on the
existing rule sets of the adjoining districts. These rule sets were written when there was little demand for water beyond that
required by rural landowners for agriculture, so the amount of water each landowner was allowed to extract was set
correspondingly high, at 2-2.5 ac.-ft. per surface acre owned.
Enter new demand for water from nearby municipalities with enough wherewithal to transport it away in pipelines. Quickly, the
old rules began to reveal cracks. Mainly because of the high extraction rate allowed, modern producers found they could make
comfortable deals with a few lucky landowners and extract almost without limit from a relatively small patch of ground. This
concentrated production will inevitably lead to a general lowering of the water table for all property owners around it, and also to
the inequitable distribution of the resource. This questionable and potentially depletionary modus operandi is what the new
GCGCD rules were written to correct.
Under the new rules, the volume and shape of the saturated section of the Carrizo Aquifer in Guadalupe County have been
defined by an expert hydrologist using a sophisticated computer program. This shape underlies a large group of property owners
in the southeastern part of the county. Each property owner acquires the right to produce from the specific part of the saturated
aquifer beneath his or her property, a part also calculated by computer. Each part so calculated is a certain percentage of the
whole aquifer, and this percentage is a number attached to the specific property above it. The district has also decided that 12,583
ac.-ft. per year can be removed from the aquifer, and the amount of water rights each property owner receives (to use or sell)
equals the specific individual percentage of the aquifer mentioned above times the 12,583 ac.-ft. This means that every property
owner over the aquifer gets a different amount of water rights based on two things: the exact size of his or her property and the
exact location of that property over the aquifer.
Taken together, the rules create a true free market in water rights and, at the same time, enhance conservation. For example,
under the new rules, it is much easier for producers to locate wells exactly according to proper hydrology, which makes good
sense. And since acquired water rights attached to any well can now be located anywhere over the aquifer, not just around the
well, all property owners wishing to sell water rights are now on a very level, very competitive playing field. Moreover, since
available water rights are now fairly distributed, many more people will receive direct remuneration from the sale of water.
Therefore, many more people will be directly vested in the future of the aquifer. This will naturally lead to greater political
involvement by all property owners over the aquifer, which is not only a beneficial state of affairs for conservation, but also a
paradigm for the future of water governance in Texas.
|How the Rules of theGuadalupe County Groundwater Conservation Districtwere derived.
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