King Explains Duties and Powers of Groundwater District

June 18, 2007

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Austin – State Representative Phil King (R-Weatherford) today laid out the following summary to explain the duties and powers of the Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District would be, if confirmed by the voters of Parker, Wise, Hood, and Montague counties. The district was enabled through S.B. 1983, legislation that passed during the recently concluded 80th Texas Legislative Session. Rep. King was the House author of the bill.

Summary of Composition/Powers and Duties of the Proposed Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District

Composition of district and board of directors:

o The district will be comprised of Hood, Montague, Parker, and Wise counties.

o An election to confirm the creation of the district by the voters of the district must take place before September 1, 2009, otherwise the district is dissolved.

o The district will be governed by an 8-member board of directors, comprised of 2 directors from each county. The commissioners court of each county in the district will appoint 2 members from their county.

o Directors serve staggered four-year terms, with the term of one director from each of the four counties expiring on June 1 of each odd-numbered year.

Powers and duties of district:

o Residential wells and wells that are used for the purposes of raising livestock or poultry, that do not exceed 25,000 gallons of usage a day, are exempt from the permitting and fees requirements of the district.

o The district may NOT exercise the power of eminent domain.

o The district may NOT impose taxes upon the residents of the counties within the district’s boundaries. The district is to operate strictly from fees collected from water usage of permitted wells.

o Any well that is completed on or before the date the district adopts the spacing requirements is exempt from the spacing requirements of the district. The district may pull a well’s exemption if said well is modified to substantially change its capacity after the spacing requirements are set by the district.

o The district may require any well, regardless of the use of the groundwater from that well, to comply with the well spacing requirement that they put in place.

o The district may require any well to be registered with the district in order to protect it through minimum well spacing distances for future wells. The district may require a well’s usage, except exempt domestic and livestock wells, to be reported to the district.

o The board is given the ability under current law to set reasonable fees for violations of the district’s requirements. In lieu of, or in addition to the above remedy, the district may impose extra fees it deems to be necessary, in order to discourage unauthorized and abusive groundwater pumping.

o The district may charge fees for water usage from any well that has a permit in the district. Since residential and livestock wells are exempted from permitting, they do not fall under the requirement to pay fees.

o The district may not charge fees to exceed: (1) $1 per acre-foot annually for groundwater used for agricultural purposes; or (2) 30 cents per thousand gallons annually for groundwater used for nonagricultural purposes.

o The district by rule may establish a temporary or permanent discounted fee rate for persons who prepay production fees to the district on or before the dates established by district rule.