Weatherford Democrat

Local News

January 10, 2007

Aquifer levels falling; officials set to take action

Editor’s Note: The following is the first article in a three-part series devoted to Parker County’s groundwater situation and the regulatory options currently under consideration.

Galen Scott

Aquifer levels in Parker County are dropping, and on the first day of a new Texas legislative session, state and local officials are on the brink of action.

As drought enveloped much of North Texas last summer, several private home owners in Parker County reported dry wells, and at least three East Parker County municipalities implemented water conservation measures.

The resulting thirst for aquifer-level statistics prompted a presentation from the Texas Water Development Board in October.

Official reports focusing on eight test wells in Parker County proved residents concerns were largely founded. All but two of the test wells showed a significant decrease in the water table.

Kelly Mills, a senior staff geologist with the Groundwater Planning and Assessment Department of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) delivered the straw to the camel’s back. Mills’ report on the groundwater situation in a 20-county area associated with the Trinity and Woodbine aquifers recommended the formation of a regional groundwater conservation district (GCD).

During a presentation to the commissioners court Tuesday, Mills said regional planning groups estimated Parker County’s safe supply figure is about 7,000 acre-feet of groundwater per year. From 1985 to 1995, Parker County’s groundwater consumption increased from 4,300 acre-feet per year to 5,827. In 2003, he said the figure had jumped to almost 10,000. He said the figures are an indication that pumping is above the estimated safe supply value.

“If you look in the state water plan adopted in November, there is a very graphic figure in the groundwater section that shows groundwater level declines and reductions in artesian pressure in the entire state from pre-development to present,” Mills explained. “If you look at the Trinity Aquifer, there are some huge, huge draw-downs.”

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