Citizens of Milam and Burleson Counties attended the first POSGCD Rainwater Harvesting workshop on Tuesday, October 10, 2017.

The workshop is part of the [POSGCD Rainwater Harvesting Rebate Program] — after attending, participants become eligible for a rebate. During the presentations, participants learn how rainwater harvesting systems work and how they can build and use them for different purposes.

Participants were able to view a variety of systems through the demonstration site set up at the office. Post Oak Savannah GCD has upcoming workshops for landscaping and rainwater harvesting in November and December.

The Post Oak Savannah GCD Board of Directors met for their monthly meeting on October 3, 2017. The meeting started at 5:30 p.m. and was held at the POSGCD office. Approximately 80 people attended the meeting.

John Giesenschlag, a Burleson County landowner and past POSGCD Director, opened up with a public comment. He thanked the Board for their work and said that he supports the District and believes that the District is still the best avenue to have local control of the groundwater in Milam and Burleson Counties.

All other public comments were made during Item 14, Request by Vista Ridge for extension of Transport Permit POS-T-0001d as Non-Substantial Change. After Gary Westbrook, General Manager of POSGCD, gave a brief overview of the timeline involving the Vista Ridge project, legal counsel outlined the three options the District could consider. Option one was to determine the letter request as non-substantial, which would allow the GM to make the decision without a hearing. Option two would be to determine the letter request as being substantial which would require a public hearing. Option three was to take no action and dispose of the request.

Paul Terrill, partner of Terrill & Waldrop and representative for Vista Ridge/Blue Water Systems, followed Westbrook and District’s legal counsel with an explanation of why the request was submitted. Terrill said the request was to extend the transport permit by 10 years to match the existing production permit. Currently, the production permit expires in 2044 and the export permit expires in 2034. Terrill said that because Vista Ridge already has a permit to produce for that time, the request to match the permits was non-substantial.

After Terrill’s comments, eight people participated in public comment. Commenters consisted of local Milam and Burleson County landowners, Lee County officials and landowners, and Chief of Staff for Representative Terry Wilson. Comments were in favor of considering the request substantial and pushing the request to a hearing. Paul Fisher, the Lee County Judge, said that a public hearing would allow landowners an opportunity to voice their opinion and for the District to be transparent.

After hearing all comments, the Directors discussed the item with Director Nathan Ausley abstaining from all comment, participation, and voting.

President Youngblood began discussion by stating the discussion and opportunity for public comment was important, and all input was appreciated. He made clear that with due respect to all, it would be the 10 Directors of the Board who will make the final decision.

Further clarification was made as to what actions the Board could make and what the best option could be. Director Tommy Tietjen said that the only thing to decide was whether the letter request was substantive or non-substantive. He continued by saying he thought the Board should not consider the request until closer to the termination of the current transport permit. Director Robert Ware echoes his thoughts and said that the Board should wait to see what impacts occur on the aquifer when pumping really starts.

Because the letter request was not a legal request, Directors Jay Wilder and Steven Wise said that the request does not follow the POSGCD rules, according to Rule 8.7 and that the requestor would need an application and a hearing to be considered.

The final motion was to deem the letter request to be substantial. The motion passed 9-0 with Director Nathan Ausley abstaining to vote.

Earlier in the meeting, Directors voted to approve changes to Board Policies and to make the Board Investment Policy a stand-alone document. Changes were made to make the District more transparent and to incorporate new legislative issues.

Westbrook also went through proposed amendments to the 2017 budget and explained some of the unforeseen expenses. Additionally, he presented the proposed 2018 budget and advised the Board that it would need to be posted for hearing at the November meeting. Directors approved the proposed 2017 budget changes and moved to set the 2018 budget for hearing at the next board meeting.

Other documents that are to be posted for hearing soon are the Groundwater Well Assistance Program and District Management Plan.

To view the meeting minutes, click here.

The Desired Future Conditions (DFC) Committee met on Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at the POSGCD Office. They heard presentations about new Advanced Aquifer Enhancement (AAE) projects, updates on the Monitoring Network and finalized edits to the Draft Groundwater Well Assistance Program (GWAP).

Steve Young from Intera started the meeting by going through a presentation outlining four ideas of possible projects that could potentially enhance the aquifers in the District—Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR), Enhanced Recharge, Surface Water and Groundwater Interaction, and Groundwater Quality (including brackish groundwater).

The presentation slides can be found at http://posgcd.org/administrator/archived-minutes/archived-minutes-2017/.

Dan Tucker, a producer in northwest Burleson County, followed with a proposed ASR project. Tucker produces tomatoes and has been researching and implementing ways to conserve groundwater and reduce costs of production. He presented to the board to seek help in setting up an ASR project through navigating and negotiating with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and to work on concepts of design.

After both presentations, the committee passed a motion for the general manager to move forward with researching and learning about advanced aquifer enhancement opportunities.

During the meeting, Bobby Bazan, POSGCD Water Resource Specialist, updated the committee on the Monitoring Network. There have been 47 wells added to the Network since the beginning of the year with additional wells scheduled to be drilled.

Finally, the Committee walked through and made final edits to the GWAP document to be posted for a 90-day comment. The hearing to accept the GWAP will be in January 2018.

Post Oak Savannah GCD hosted a workshop for local water utility groups on September 26, 2017. Sam Godfrey Owner and President of Samco, and James Beauchamp, Owner and President of Texas Drinking Water Solutions, gave presentations. Topics included 2018 groundwater conservation grant applications, leak detections, and GIS mapping.

         

The Post Oak Savannah GCD (POSGCD) Board of Directors met for their monthly meeting on September 5, 2017 at the POSGCD office. The meeting began with a public hearing on possible rule changes to Rules 7.4, Application Requirements for All Permits and 7.7, Permits Issued by the District. Mr. Dan Fischer had submitted a comment via email previous to the hearing and there were no comments during the hearing. After the public hearing, Directors voted unanimously to accept the rules as presented.

During the meeting, Kobly Dague, a student in the Texas 4-H2O Ambassador program, gave a presentation about his experience this summer. He shared highlights from the 8-day Youth Leadership Academy, where ambassadors learned about water policy, management and issues across the state. After his presentation, he presented the Directors with a plaque to thank them for their sponsorship of the program.

The Board heard reports from the Advisory, Desired Future Condition (DFC), Rules and Building Committees. The DFC Committee is on track to completing the Groundwater Well Assistance Program document and posting it for public comment in October. The DFC Committee also reported the Well Monitoring Network continues to grow and improve.

The Directors discussed updates on the joint planning processes in Groundwater Management Area (GMA) 12 and 8. The next GMA 12 meeting will be on September 20, 2017 at 10 a.m. at the POSGCD office. Directors also heard reports from the general manager and education coordinator.

The Desired Future Conditions (DFC) Committee members met on September 5, 2017 at the POSGCD office. The committee members walked through changes to the Groundwater Well Assistance Program (GWAP) document. The GWAP, which had previously been two documents, is now a single document to help

DFC Committee Chair, Steven Wise, said that an appeal process will be added. The appeal process will give well owners an option for a second review by an independent hydrogeologist if a claim is denied.

Committee members discussed a funding baseline for the GWAP and decided that $100,000 would suffice. After evaluations are completed, they will come back and adjust the budget as needed.

Steve Young, Principal Geologist of Intera, briefly went through the Methodology for Determining Compliance with DFCs document. He advised that the document would take four months to be ready for public comment.

The District is currently looking at adopting protocols for collection of water level measurements that are similar to neighboring districts and state protocols.

Bobby Bazan, POSGCD Water Resource Specialist, reported that the Well Monitoring Network continues to grow. He has added 48 new monitoring wells and will have the goal of 50 by the end of summer.

There will be a Local Water Utilities Workshop held at the Post Oak Savannah GCD’s office on September 26, 2017 from 6 to 9 p.m. All local water utilities in Milam and Burleson Counties are welcome to attend the free workshop.

The Local Water Utilities Workshop is designed for managers, board members and city council members. It will provide helpful information to all decision-making members within local water utility groups in efforts to conserve groundwater.

Additionally, local water utilities can receive points on their 2018 POSGCD Grant Application based on the number of people that attend.

The following topics are on the agenda:

  • Update on 2017 and 2018 POSGCD Grants
  • Leak Detection: A proactive approach to water conservation
  • GIS & Mapping Your System

If your group is interested in attending the workshop, please call the POSGCD office at 512-455-9900 with a list of attendees before September 20, 2017.

All materials will be provided and everyone will receive a catered dinner.

Groundwater experts came to the Caldwell Civic Center on August 16, 2017 to speak at the fourth annual Milam & Burleson Counties Groundwater Summit. Nearly 140 people attended the Summit.

The Honorable Judge Sutherland welcomed attendees to the Summit. Judge Sutherland said that Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District (POSGCD) Board of Directors have challenging jobs and responsibilities. He said the Directors that represent Burleson County have done an excellent job. He talked about the selection process for Directors and welcomed Burleson County residents to come speak to him if they had questions.

After Judge Sutherland’s welcome, Sarah Schlessinger, Master of Ceremonies and Executive Director of the Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts (TAGD), welcomed the first presenter to the stage.

Robert Mace, a Deputy Executive Administrator of the Texas Water Development Board, was the first speaker. He gave an overview of the characteristics of aquifers and groundwater before delving into Groundwater Availability Models (GAMs). Mace told attendees that aquifers aren’t large ponds of water beneath the surface. Aquifers are dirt and rocks that water moves through.

Mace walked through figures and meanings of aquifers and groundwater. He then talked about groundwater flow and the differences between confined and unconfined aquifers.

After his ‘Aquifer 101’ set up, Mace talked about GAMs. He said that the models are essentially taking what is known about aquifers and putting that knowledge into a computer to simulate them. The models are then used to help create Desired Future Conditions and District Management Plans.

Larry French, P.G., Director of the Groundwater Division of the Texas Water Development Board, talked about Desired Future Conditions (DFCs) after Mace’s presentation. A DFC is a measurable condition of an aquifer at a specified future time.

French started his presentation by going over two approaches to managing groundwater in the United States. In Texas, landowner own groundwater as a private property right. In other states, such as New Mexico and Colorado, groundwater is owned by the state.

DFCs are part of the joint planning process in Texas to help manage, regulate and protect aquifers and groundwater at the local level. French said groundwater could care less about county, state or any other political lines. That is why it is essential to implement management practices across areas that share resources.

The process to adopt DFCs include three groups: district representatives in groundwater management areas, individual districts and the Texas Water Development Board. At the District level, residents have the opportunity to look at and comment on the proposed DFCs, after which the DFC moves to adoption.

Creating an effective DFC is a balancing act between the highest practicable level of groundwater production and conservation, protection and prevention of waste. There are numerous factors and conditions that are required to be evaluated when creating DFCs, such as the State Water Plan, uses and conditions of an aquifer, hydrologic conditions, environmental impacts, socioeconomics, property rights and GAMs.

French wanted attendees to remember three main points from his presentation: DFCs are locally-driven with resident participation; DFCs are not set in stone and can be modified and adjustments as improvements in data happen; and Districts are responsible for managing aquifers and allowing DFCs to be reached.

The next presentation was a panel of speakers discussing the impacts of production in the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer. Mace was the moderator of this panel.

Kevin J. Spencer, P.G., President of R.W. Harden and Associates, Inc. has more than 25 years of experience developing fresh and brackish groundwater resources and was the first panelist to present. Spencer began by talking about how pressure in aquifers work and how that affects water level measurements. He said that the outcrop area and water table are better measuring tools to measure how pumping affects an aquifer.

Spencer went on to say that there is more groundwater in the Carrizo and Simsboro Aquifers than all of the lakes in Texas. He said that if the DFC were to be reached by 2060, that only 1.13% of the total water in the aquifers will be produced.

In summary, Spencer said that the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer system is a productive major aquifer, drought resistant, has large volumes of water in storage and is a long-term, reliable supply of water.

Second to speak was Chad Norris, an aquatic biologist representing the Water Resources Branch from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Norris said that TPWD has a responsibility to protect fish and wildlife resources in Texas and that they provide input to GCDs and GMAs as requested.

Norris said that surface water and groundwater interaction is extremely important to aquatic environments. Habitats such as streams, hillside bogs, ponds and rivers are dependent on groundwater.

When water is withdrawn from groundwater wells, it has to come from somewhere, Norris said. He knows there will be change with groundwater withdrawal, but cannot predict where that change will happen.

Moving forward, Norris said that it is important to monitor and learn more about groundwater and surface water interaction.

Toya Jones, a hydrogeologist from Intera, followed Norris. She started her presentation by stating GCDs are charged with regulating and protecting groundwater in the aquifers. She said that POSGCD’s management strategies consist of spacing requirements, maximum pumping limit, DFCs and Protective Drawdown Limits (PDLs) of shallow zones in the District.

Jones reminded attendees that POSGCD is the regulatory agency with authority and responsibility to regulate production and manage the aquifers in Milam and Burleson Counties.

Because the majority of registered wells in the District are 400 feet or less, the District is taking precautions to make sure that shallow wells are protected. Since 2000, drawdown in the shallow zone of the Simsboro has seen no net change.

Jones said that POSGCD, along with other GCDs and groundwater organizations, has been a leader in efforts to improve the GAM. This will help them to better understand aquifer characteristics, fault representations, surface water and groundwater interaction, and shallow zone predictions.

In conclusion, Jones said that POSGCD is in the process of expanding their monitoring network through increasing number of wells and frequency of measurement, coverage of aquifers, and continuing to support GAM updates.

During lunch, Drew Gholson, Ph.D., Extension Program Specialist for the Texas A&M Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and former POSGCD staff member, introduced the new POSGCD Rainwater Harvesting Grant Program. Gholson discussed how rainwater harvesting can help conserve groundwater and improve landscapes through water quality and storm water management.

To be eligible for the rainwater harvesting rebate, participants must be a resident or landowner in the District, complete an approved rainwater harvesting course and submit a site analysis. Qualifying participants can be awarded up to $3,000 per household per lifetime.

The first workshop is scheduled for October 10, 2017. Those interested in participating should call the POSGCD office at 512-455-9900 to sign up. There is also an Earth-kind Water Conservation Workshop scheduled for November 6, 2017.

After lunch, the Honorable Judge Barkemeyer, Milam County Judge, welcomed everyone back. After an anecdote about cleaning out water bins and water towers, Barkemeyer briefly described how the Board of Directors for POSGCD are selected and appointed and how Directors create and set policy to be carried out by POSGCD staff. He then handed over the stage to the next panel.

The General Managers of Groundwater Management Area (GMA) 12 Panel consisted of the five general managers of the GCDs within GMA 12. Gary Westbrook from Post Oak Savannah GCD, Alan Day from Brazos Valley GCD, Jim Totten from Lost Pines GCD, David Bailey from Mid-East Texas GCD, and David Van Dresar from Fayette County GCD. Schlessinger moderated.

The panel reviewed similarities and differences among the neighboring Districts that make up GMA 12. Each general manager had an opportunity to explain why their management practices and rules varied from other GCDs in the GMA and how those differences impacted the GMA as a whole. Differences such as type of permits, exemptions, enforcement and spacing requirements were discussed at length.

GCDs also share data among GMA 12 to improve the understanding of the aquifer as a whole.

As an aquifer’s characteristics change over different areas, management and policies c
hange as well. Additionally, each District has different populations and uses of water that need to be considered.

Westbrook and Steven Wise, Vice-President of the POSGCD Board of Directors, then followed with a presentation about the POSGCD Groundwater Well Assistance Program (GWAP), which is in the last stages of development.

The purposes of the GWAP are to restore a water supply to well owners in the District that have experienced significant adverse impacts caused by aquifer-wide pumping in GMA 12 and to improve the POSGCD monitoring program. Westbrook and Wise said that the GWAP will be funded by fees collected by the District and will be a separate line item in the POSGCD budget.

The GWAP is set to be posted for a 90-day comment period by October 3, 2017 with hopes of adoption by January 5, 2018. There will be ongoing evaluations to continue to improve the GWAP.

The last presentation was a POSGCD Monitoring Network by Bobby Bazan, Water Resource Specialist at Post Oak Savannah GCD, and Ralph Sifuentes, POSGCD Field Technician.

Bazan talked about what the monitoring network is and how it helps the District make management and rule decisions. There are currently 112 wells in the network, with 16 of them being measured continuously. The rest are measured annually.

Becoming involved allows each landowner to participate in the improvement of the data which influence the decisions made by Directors.

Bazan and Sifuentes said the District is focusing on the shallow Carrizo-Wilcox zone and will have 50 additional wells by the end of this summer. They are also increasing the frequency of measurements and improving data sharing by creating a new web-based interface that will be coming to the POSGCD website.

If you are interested in learning more about the Monitoring Network, call the POSGCD office at 512-455-9900.

POSGCD Board of Director President, Sidney Youngblood, awarded three of the Directors during the Summit for outstanding service to the District since 2001. Directors were Nathan Ausley, Kerry Starnes and Bob Ware.

During breaks, Megan Homeyer, Education Coordinator of Post Oak Savannah GCD, gave updates about the POSGCD website and social media. She invited and encouraged attendees to get involved with the District.

Speaker’s presentation slides can be found here.

On August 1, 2017, Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District welcomed Ralph Sifuentes as a Field Technician. Sifuentes was born and raised in Hearne, Texas before moving to Rockdale in 1979.
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Mr. Sifuentes has over 27 years of experience in drilling and groundwater. He began working for Alcoa as a driller and drilling supervisor. In 1994, Sifuentes started supervising the drilling of groundwater monitoring wells. After working with Alcoa, Sifuentes worked for Luminant by supervising installation of wells, as well as groundwater mitigation and monitoring.
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As a field technician for POSGCD, Sifuentes will assist in monitoring wells, checking water levels and water quality, troubleshooting, and performing well inspections.
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Sifuentes said that his experience and background in groundwater, as well as being involved with the installation of monitor wells, will help him perform the duties of the POSGCD Field Technician. In addition, he will be talking to landowners about adding their wells to the POSGCD Monitoring Network.
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With his extensive drilling background and knowledge about groundwater and wells, Sifuentes is a valuable addition to the POSGCD staff and they are excited to have him aboard.

Sifuentes can be contacted at rsifuentes@posgcd.org or (979) 455-9900.

A panel of hydrogeologists is scheduled to discuss how large-scale production in the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer will impact water levels and landowners in the District. Kevin J. Spencer, P.G., is the President of R.W. Harden and Associates, Inc. and has more than 25 years of experience developing fresh and brackish groundwater resources.
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Spencer said his presentation will include a series of illustrations that show how an aquifer like the Carrizo-Wilcox responds to groundwater withdrawal. He has been the principal investigator and project manager for the development of large-scale pumping of groundwater from public and industrial supply wells in Texas. Spencer has also evaluated the availability, cost and impacts from additional groundwater projects.

Toya Jones, a hydrogeologist for Intera, will also be on the panel. Jones has 30 years of experience in aquifer characterization and development of numerical models that measure water resources. She has served in key technical roles for the development of groundwater availability models for numerous aquifers in Texas, where her efforts include compiling and analyzing aquifer water-level data and establishing regional groundwater flow and pre-development aquifer conditions.

To complete the panel, Chad Norris, an aquatic biologist, will be representing the Water Resources Branch from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Norris has experience in groundwater policy and management, conserving and restoring springs, and has helped in creating aquatic- and spring-related Habitat Conservation Plans.

Robert Mace, Deputy Executive Administrator of Texas Water Development Board, will moderate the panel.

For those interested in the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District’s new Groundwater Well Assistance Program (GWAP), a panel is set to discuss what the program is designed to do and who can participate.

Steven Wise, Vice President of the Post Oak Savannah GCD Board of Directors, will discuss what the GWAP is and how it pertains to citizens of the District. Wise was appointed to the POSGCD Board of Directors in 2013 and was elected Vice President of the Board in 2017. He is the chair of the DFC Committee, which is still developing the program.

The primary purpose of the GWAP is to restore a water supply to well owners in the District who own a well that has experienced significant adverse impacts caused by aquifer-wide pumping in Groundwater Management Area 12. The program will also help improve the POSGCD monitoring program.

Wise said that by attending the GWAP panel, residents of Burleson and Milam Counties will learn how the program protects well owners and who is eligible to participate.

Gary Westbrook, General Manager of POSGCD, will be on the GWAP panel with Wise. They will discuss when the program is set to be adopted and the processes available to well owners to be included in the program.

Westbrook said, “The process of developing the GWAP has been extensive, and it will be a program every well owner in the District can appreciate.”

Citizens of Milam and Burleson Counties, as well as surrounding areas, can benefit from attending the Groundwater Summit. Post Oak Savannah GCD organizes the annual event and invites groundwater experts from across Texas to come speak at the local level.

“Our Summit lineup includes speakers who regularly give presentations at water conferences where attendees gain professional educational credits and would have to pay hundreds of dollars to attend,” Westbrook said. “Attendance is free and provides a great opportunity to stay up to date on current groundwater issues and the state’s requirements on local groundwater management.”

In addition to the topics mentioned above, this year’s Summit covers a variety of issues, such as how Groundwater Conservation Districts collaborate within Groundwater Management Area 12, an overview of Groundwater Availability Models (GAMs) and how they are developed and used, an overview of Desired Future Conditions (DFCs), an introduction to Post Oak Savannah’s new Rainwater Harvesting Grant Program, and an update on the POSGCD well-monitoring system.

For any questions, please contact the POSGCD office at 512-455-9900, or email at admin@posgcd.org. Please RSVP to your County Extension office by August 8th. Burleson County, 979-567-2308. Milam County, 254-697-7045. For a detailed agenda of the Summit, please visit http://posgcd.org/outreach/2017-milam-burleson-counties-groundwater-summit/.