2013-04-11 / Community News

Thoughts on the Future

by Wade B. Dane, Asst. GM Lee Co. WSC

In a past article, Joe Cooper, one time Manager of Lost Pines Ground Water Conservation District and now consultant, commented on the duties of LPGCD to watch over and protect the Aquifer from over pumping. He stated this also meant the Water Supply Corporations, Cities, and other water utilities inside Lee and Bastrop Counties were to be watched also.

The numbers you will hear being thrown around are acre feet of water, as they are looking at permitting 124,000 acre feet of our water to water marketers. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Here’s a little perspective on this number. An acre foot of water represents 325,851 gallons of water. Multiply that number times 124,000 acre feet per year and that equals 40,405,524,000 gallons of water leaving per year just from a couple of marketers… who’s next?

This is compared to the approximately thirteen other water utilities in the Lee and Bastrop areas that are permitted for a combined 79,025 acre feet of water. Since then we were all asked to see if we could cut back our total permitted water and this was done by several of the water utilities. At this time the new numbers are far less than the 79,025 acre feet permitted.

Lee County WSC has averaged 961.36 acre feet per year pumped over the last six years, you do the math.

You should also know that if the LPGCD were to cut back pumping of the aquifer due to aquifer decline, we must all cut back, marketers and utilities. This means you the consumer, and all WSC’s, Cities and water utilities must enforce this by whatever means necessary. For example, if the order was to come down that due to over pumping all pumping will be reduced by 20% that means Lee County WSC, the City of Lexington, City of Giddings and all other water utilities in Lee and Bastrop counties will have to implement water rationing in which we will be asking or demanding that you cut your watering by 20%.

What would this mean? Example: Lee County WSC would have to reduce pumping from 858,246 gallons per day on average to 686,597 per day while the water marketers would be reduced to pumping from 110,700,065 to 88,560,052 gallons per day.

Maybe we should ask a couple of qualifying questions to these entities:

1) Is this water for recreational use? Outside watering, swimming pools, etc. If so, why?

2) If the cities and new subdivisions are hurting for water, then should they not already be in Stage 3 or 4 of water rationing? This means no outside watering?

This sounds like going to the bank to borrow money for food and then taking that money to buy a fully loaded King Ranch Edition pickup.

Seems like the thinking is “So thank you very much for your water and oh, by the way, you won’t mind cutting back in the rural areas so we here in the big cities can have our beautiful manicured lawns, do you?”

A thought for Lee and surrounding county residents: When the water level drops below your pump on home wells and local water utilities have to lower their pumps to reach water due to aquifer decline to continue to provide our customers water along the way, electrical costs will increase to pay for larger horsepower motors to run the larger pumps which in return drives electrical costs up, who pays for this increase? Like everything else it’s passed along to you, the customer. Do we just continue allowing them take our water and increase our costs along the path to water shortages, or possibly no more water?

This may not affect the adult population now, but it will certainly impact our children and grandchildren.

Take time and look at what has happened to one of the largest aquifers in the world, the “Ogallala”. It was said to have enough water to supply the 174,000 miles along with the eight states it covers for thousands of years and it was virtually untouched until 1910.

Since Groundwater mining of the Ogallala accelerated in the last century the aquifer has dropped 10 to 50 feet with several recorded drops of over 100 feet.

The Ogallala Aquifer has now degraded in not only quantity but quality also.

You may even hear the argument that the lack of recharge has affected the Ogallala. What’s your thought on our climate over the last 30 years?

As one of the utilities that serve Lee and surrounding counties, we feel you should have some information so you might be able to wrap your hands around this issue.

Why do we not demand that the areas that have the most need of this water look into alternative sources? Years ago the citizens of San Antonio voted down a proposal to build a reservoir for this very purpose. What about restricting outside use of water? If you don’t have it, don’t use it. That process alone would cut water usage by no less than one half. What about re-use? Taking treated sewer water, transporting it through re-use lines for outside use only; this method is being used more and more in this state and other states have implemented this for years. Will it cost millions, possibly billions to the larger cities? Perhaps, but it will also create jobs which will in return create taxable money. We keep talking about stimulating the economy, well, here’s your chance.

Should not all the resources be looked at before we come knocking at the door of our neighbors to borrow water that will never be replaced?

For some of you this may not mean much and for some of you that have sold your water rights, well, that’s your right by Texas State Law under the right of capture, but what about the future of Lee and Bastrop Counties? Are we less important in the scheme of things?

Do future generations of our counties not deserve any consideration what so ever?

Folks, rural Texas has lost a lot of Representation over the years but you still have a voice.

The decision on 55,000 of the 124,000 acre feet of water under permit application was Delayed until the next meeting of the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District which will be held April 17, 2013 at the Giddings City Hall. The meeting starts at 6 pm with public hearing at 7 pm.

How do you feel about the future of our Counties?

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