Weatherford Democrat

Local News

October 2, 2006

Groundwater Conservation District talks in Parker County

TCEQ considering creation of district; residents question energy exemption

Galen Scott

The drought, population growth and natural gas exploration are contributing to calls for a groundwater conservation district (GCD) in Parker County.

Robert Mace, director of the Texas Water Development Board’s Groundwater Resources Division, told county commissioners and approximately 50 citizens Monday the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is already preparing the “priority groundwater management area” reports for the Trinity Aquifer.

Mace warned commissioners that if local government doesn’t direct its state representatives to create a groundwater conservation district, the state may do it for them, and local input on the specific powers of the district could be lost.

TCEQ can declare part of the state a “priority groundwater management area” if the state expects that area to experience groundwater supply issues within the next 25 or 30 years. After such a declaration is made, the clock starts ticking for the locals to form a district within the next two years, otherwise the state comes in and forms the district, according to Mace.

“So this is something you might want to look at because basically, the state might come in and say, ‘you really need to form a district,’” Mace told commissioners.

The Trinity Aquifer area includes Parker County and covers an area stretching from Dallas/Fort Worth all the way down through Waco.

Parker County’s state representatives, Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) and Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls), could sponsor the bill themselves and tailor the district to suit the area’s specific needs.

“This is a local issue, and if the local folks come to us asking for legislation, then it’s something Senator Estes will definitely take a look at, but it’s not something he would just introduce on his own without local support,” said Toby Baker, committee director for the Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Coastal Resources, a committee which Estes chairs.

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