Conroe - Montgomery Edition | February 2021

rules and a new groundwater man- agement plan. A new LSGCD board—which was elected in 2018 thanks to state leg- islation, replacing the previous appointed board—adopted new rules in September that abolished the pre- vious restrictions to comply with the final judgement. Per Texas Water Code Chapter 36, LSGCD’s new rules issue permits based on demand with an annual authorized limit, Reiter said. The new rules authorize the dis- trict to institute cutbacks if needed in the future. “The changes were necessary to comply with current law,” she said. But Houston, who previously served on LSGCD’s appointed board, said the district did not need to abol- ish its previous reduction rules and could have simply modified the rules, perhaps requiring entities to restrict usage to 70% of their current demand instead of 2009 demand. Further, the judge’s ruling stated there is “sub- stantial ground for difference of opin- ion” and recommended an immediate appeal of the order. The LSGCD board did appeal, however the appeal was dismissed because the parties reached a settle- ment agreement, according to Reiter. Reiter also said the legal issue behind the cutbacks was not the baseline amount—such as 2009 demand ver- sus current demand—but that it was against large volume users. Still,without thepumping cap, some worry aquifers will deplete faster. “It’s going to result in water level declines and subsidence,” Houston said. However, not everyone is in favor of tightening pumping restrictions on groundwater— which is cheaper than surface water—particularly those who live in northern Montgomery County where subsidence is not as prevalent. Conroe City Council Member Duke Coon said at a Feb. 9 LSGCD meet- ing that subsidence in the south may be caused by pumping from Harris County. He suggested forming a man- agement district in south Montgom- ery County in cooperation with Harris County to tackle the issue. “One size does not fit all,” he said. “The city of Conroe cannot afford to have our pumping limited.” Future of groundwater Upcoming decisions at the regional level will also affect future ground- water use. The district is consider- ing a new desired future condition, or DFC—a long-term goal for the

aquifers—that will need to be voted on by GMA 14 districts in May for final adoption in January 2022. LSGCD is considering three scenario options for its DFC. Subsidence was used as a modeling constraint in all three scenarios to see if there could be any potential concerns with various levels of pumping, and the model sce- narios did not predict “unacceptable levels of subsidence,” officials said. But Turco said the constraint—1 foot of subsidence on average across the county in the next 50 years—could mean some areas could experience up to 3 feet. Meanwhile, various subsidence stud- ies are underway. The HGSD is working on a Spring Creek study that will likely wrap up by January 2022, and LSGCD is working on a subsidence study focused solely onMontgomery County. “I’m concerned about the potential impact of subsidence,” LSGCD Pres- ident Harry Hardman said. “We are definitely spending time, effort and resources [into studying this].” The SJRA board, however, is step- ping out of the conversation sur- rounding subsidence. After trying to “wave this red flag” for years, Hous- ton said he is tired of fighting. But the consequences still worry him. “We’ve tried to warn people. I don’t know if anyone is listening to us,” he said. “You can’t just wait around 10 years and say, ‘Oh gosh, we sunk another foot.”

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Groundwater Management Area 14, composed of several subsidence and groundwater management districts, is examining scenarios for desired future conditions, or DFCs, that could affect how much future groundwater pumping is permitted from aquifers in Montgomery County. A new DFC must be adopted in January 2022.

“High” scenario

115,000 acre-feet* per year

“Medium” scenario

97,000 acre-feet per year

“Low” scenario

61,000 acre-feet per year




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