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Milam & Burleson Counties Groundwater Summit Overview

Groundwater experts came to the Caldwell Civic Center on August 14, 2019 to speak at the sixth annual Milam & Burleson Counties Groundwater Summit. Over 250 people attended the Summit.

The Honorable Judge Keith Schroeder, Burleson County Judge, welcomed attendees to the Summit. Judge Schroeder complimented Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District (POSGCD) Board of Directors on how they represent both counties and have done an excellent job in the complicated balancing of conservation, and private property rights, for land owners interests involving Groundwater.

Judge Schroeder welcomed Texas State Representative Ben Leman House District 13. He addressed the crowd, sharing his view on water rights in Texas. He explained the important role of Groundwater Conservation Districts in protection of local land owners rights.

Leah Martinsson, Master of Ceremonies and Executive Director of the Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts (TAGD), welcomed POSGCD President Sidney Youngblood who spoke about the State of the District. Youngblood explained the District’s conservation programs and grants available to the citizens in the District, the improved ability to predict future aquifer conditions and how we practice sustainable management through the best available science.

Robert Mace, the Deputy Executive Director of The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, and a Professor of Practice in the Department of Geography at Texas State University, had a very interesting talk about the interaction of groundwater and surface water. His entertaining information centered on the complicated science or the way water flows between rivers and aquifers.

Dr. Joe Yelderman, Jr. PhD, PG Professor, Baylor University shared information from a research study graduate students Jacob Jarvis, Erin Noonan and other students on how the water reacts between the Brazos River and the Brazos River Alluvium Aquifer. Being the only flood plain aquifer in the state, it reacts different than other aquifer in our District.

After a break with kolaches and coffee, attendees heard the next three speakers, Sarah Backhouse Director of Regional Planning for the Texas Water Development Board, Wayne Wilson, Region G Water Planning Group – Chairman and Gary Westbrook, General Manager Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District,  who explained about the extensive process of planning for the future needs of water for the state of Texas. The State Water Plan is a coordination of sixteen planning groups and is developed every five years. This five year planning cycle allows our state water plan to adapt to and account for changing conditions and our state’s population growth.

Joel Pigg, Program Coordinator, Texas Well Owners Network, talked about the vast network of private water wells across our District and State, programs of benefit to citizens resulting from cooperation between POSGCD and Texas AgriLife. He highlighted the POSGCD Well Water Testing program, the Rainwater Harvesting Grant Program and Well Plugging Assistance program.  He explained how to take your sample to the Extension Office in Caldwell or Cameron before 1:30pm on Thursday August 15. He also gave the date for the Well Educated Programs to explain the results of the findings of your sample on September 16, from 9am-10am at the POSGCD office from 1pm-2pm at the Caldwell Expo Center.

After lunch of fajitas and fixings was served, Texas Senator Lois Kolkhorst, District 18, shared information about the 86th legislative session including state budget information, the importance of local Groundwater Districts, the SAWS/Vista Ridge project, brackish groundwater bill and other important bills that concerned groundwater. Senator Kolkhorst talked about the challenges Groundwater Districts will face in the future concerning groundwater, the State’s need for water and local property owner rights.

The Honorable Milam County Judge Steve Young welcomed the group back to the Summit. He talked about upcoming economic development in the area and how an increase in population will put stress on our natural resources including groundwater. Judge Young shared his belief in the need for our Groundwater District and the work it does to protect the Aquifers in our District.

Jevon Harding, Hydrogeologist, Intera Geoscience and Engineering Solutions, explained how we know the conditions of the Aquifers below our ground and how they will react to pumping and other conditions in the Aquifer. Jevon shared information in an easily understandable way that the science, technologies and complex computer models accurately predict the characterizations of the groundwater flow, recharge, and reactions of the shallow zone of the aquifers and the deep, confined areas of the aquifers.  Steve Young, Principal Geo-Scientist/Engineer of Intera talked about how the Vista Ridge project will affect the water in our Aquifers and how the tools the District has in place will protect the wells of the landowners in our District. Young also explained how pumping in our neighboring Groundwater Districts also effects the Aquifers in our District. He reassured those in attendance that Post Oak Savannah GCD is on top of what is happening in our District and area through the over 200 monitoring wells, the improved science of groundwater availability models and how we work closely with the four other groundwater districts in our Groundwater Management Area 12,  to protect the shared water recourses and especially the shallow zones of the Aquifers in our District.

Director Becky Goestch and Education Coordinator Doug Box, then followed with a presentation about the POSGCD Aquifer Conservancy Program (ACP), which is going strong with over 11,000 acres and 150 parcels of land already committed to the program. The innovative program will allow landowners to partner with each other and the District to conserve water in the District. They explained how easily landowners can sign up for the program and how the program will enable landowners in the District to commit their groundwater resources into a long-term conservation program.

Gary Westbrook and Sidney Youngblood returned to the stage to recognize past Director Robert Ware for his 17 years of service to the citizens of the District. Ware served from the District’s creation in 2001 until 2018. He served on numerous committees through out his term. Bob has been the longest serving Director in POSGCD history.

The final presentation of the day covered the POSGCD Well Monitoring Network. This update was given by Bobby Bazan, Water Resource Specialist at Post Oak Savannah GCD, and Ralph Sifuentes, POSGCD Field Technician. Bazan explained what the monitoring network is and how it helps the District gather information to assist the POSGCD Board in making management decisions. Bazan noted 218 wells in the network. The two then encouraged local landowners to participate in the network to improvement of the data which influences the District’s actions. Bazan and Sifuentes said the District is focusing on the shallow Carrizo-Wilcox zone and will have additional wells by the end of this year.

Bazan then shared the new web-based interface that allows the public to view information on the POSGCD website about wells in the monitoring system, as well as virtually all the wells in the District. He encouraged everyone to check out the new tutorials on the website to learn all the capabilities of the new public interface. To access the Interface go to https://posgcd.org/public-interface/

They showed a few areas in the District that we need additional monitoring wells, especially 400 feet or shallower. If you are interested in learning more about the Monitoring Network, call the POSGCD office at 512-455-9900.

Speaker’s presentation slides can be found on the POSGCD website at https://posgcd.org/groundwater-summit/ and videos of the presentation will be up soon.

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