The audience at the 9-14-11 Headwaters Groundwater Conservation District Board meeting was keenly focused on disparity of water allotment throughout the groundwater district and expressed concern the HGCD was not doing enough to avoid the same disastrous water shortage faced by neighboring Kendall County. Suggestions for ticketing, fines and jail were put forth as solutions for pumping violations. Even though the HGCD has no enforcement authority it is within the jurisdiction of the commissioner's court to issue such a directive as has been done in Kendall County.
Board Member Pratt felt we need less interference from the HGCD. In the past developers and new water systems have been responsible for collecting and paying the fee for well samples and analysis which helps to map geological formations and water availability in various areas of the county. He made a motion to delete the rule completely. Arguments for deleting the rule included:
Responses to the above reasoning included:
- state laws are in place for water and that's all we need
- the fee is too burdensome for developers they will go to another county where development costs are lower
- we need to bring more people to increase the tax base
- we need development to create jobs
- who really needs the information from well samples, the state hasn't told us to collect the information
- if the HGCD wants the sample they should pay for it not the developer
There will be a public hearing on deleting the rule completely at the UGRA building on Wednesday, October 19th at 1:30 pm. This does not in any way affect new, future or old residential-domestic-exempt wells. It just requires new large wells to collect this data during the drilling process. Developers, realtors and investors will be well represented at this meeting. They will be loud and threatening to take their development somewhere else. In the past I've heard one developer threaten the HGCD board with an uprising on a similar issue.
- how can you continue to bring people into the county when we have no water
- well known that residential development costs more than the tax revenue it generates
- continued residential development will hurt our tourism industry
- we need the data for smart development i.e. build where there is a reliable water source
- developers do not pay the fee it is paid by the water companies responsible for drilling and selling the water to the new subdivision residents. The water companies are in the business to make money and the $4,0000 to $6,000 fee is part of their business expense and does not deter them
- the data is needed and current taxpayers whose water is being pumped by the new development will bear the future financial burden of lower aquifer levels and possible depletion
- the cost should not be paid by the HGCD---as a tax based entity this would mean individual taxpayers are paying water company expenses for a developer who is putting more stress on the water supply
- state legislature has put groundwater management squarely in the hands of locally elected Groundwater Districts not the state
The individual taxpayers of Kerr County including Kerrville, Center Point, Ingram & Hunt residents need to show up and offer your opinion to our groundwater district board. They will be voting on the issue at the November 9th regular monthly meeting.
Thank you and the KDT for your continued coverage of water issues. I hope you will be able to correct a statement in yesterday's edition. Specifically, "restrictions imposed by the state on how much water the city can pull from the Guadalupe River have curtailed the city's safe operating capacity". Actually, there is almost no water in the Guadalupe River to pull. TCEQ only requires the city to maintain the same river flow out of Town Lake that flows into the lake during periods of low flow. During periods of above normal flow the city is required to simply maintain normal flow over the dam. There has been very little flow into Town Lake for months and the TCEQ cannot produce additional river water. The city of Kerrville has free access to all the water in Town Lake they simply must assure that the same amount flows over the dam as flows into the lake.
You should be aware that Charlie Hastings, Director of Public Works, has blamed the TCEQ's watermaster program for Kerrville water restrictions in previous years by promoting the idea that the city is being punished. Your article implies that untruth is being promoted again. The TCEQ (state) does not dictate anything beyond assuring the river continues to flow. I hope you will take a critical look at the facts surrounding river pumping and provide a factual analysis to your readers.
The Kerr County Conscience website provides historical data from the USGS gauges located along the river in Kerr County. I believe a brief check of this data is invaluable to understanding that our current river water situation is indeed a crisis which we cannot blame on the state. Click here to view this data.
East Kerr County
Kerr County Conscience
A Sunday morning drive along Center Point’s River Road ain’t what it used to be.
The drive from east to west still begins beneath the stunningly beautiful canopy of old pecans, oaks, elm and cypress. The undergrowth opens up in a few places to give the driver a few peeks at the Guadalupe River—just teasers leaving you wishing for more. Trouble is, the bigger view opening up on the other side of the road is a quarry neighbor’s nightmare. Thistles, thistles, thistles. Everywhere, musk thistles.
And what have our neighbors, the gravel quarries, done to stop the explosive proliferation of these awful weeds?
Martin Marietta Aggregates has made no attempt to control thistle growth on their property that adjoins River Road and Sutherland Lane. White seeds are drifting in the wind to all parts of the county. And beyond.
Drymala Quarry seems to be mounting a late poisoning of their thistle forest on Sutherland Road. Probably a high-powered chemical since Roundup® won’t kill thistles that are that tall. This quarry neighbor guesses they have a license to purchase those potent, federally regulated chemicals in large quantities, since Drymala obviously used a lot of whatever noxious chemical it is.
Do the quarries’ neighbors have a right to know what chemical compound Drymala has sprayed?
The runoff from whatever they are, those herbicides or herbicide, seeps directly into the river and is undoubtedly detrimental to the downstream neighbors as well as to fish and to river plants.
Could there have been some drift onto neighbor’s property or onto the roadway as they sprayed…?
Let us return to our tour.
Take a turn back onto River Road and you see the backside of Drymala’s quarry.
While county crews have mowed their side of the fence, the right-of-way, the quarry’s neglect presents a stark contrast.
Musk thistles run amuck on this part of Drymala land.
A monumental travesty will undoubtedly unfold next spring. These thistle seeds are already drifting across River Road. They drift, spreading hundreds of thousands of seeds, each one eager to bloom into a tall stalk of sharp thorns. Thorns that injure livestock and wildlife, while ruining the land, be it recreational, agricultural, or residential.
I see the wedge of ground that has been scrapped and gouged into an ATV-motocross facility. All the vegetation has been removed from the surface, leaving bare dirt. Prime river bottom dirt.
Can a thistle seed ask for more?
I know there is relief ahead. I am almost to TEXAS MONTHLY Magazine’s #3 swimming hole in Texas, the Brinks-Reese-Guadalupe crossing. But there’s no relief for me. This popular recreational spot, a haven for man since the days of the Native Americans, has not been spared. Musk-thistle seeds have made their way to the riverbank.
Thankfully, those weeds have not germinated in huge numbers. Not yet. Were they seeded from the unattended quarry berms a few feet above the river?
A return to Highway 27 is encouraging. Martin Marietta has removed thistles along this heavily traveled roadway. Well, maybe not so encouraging. Neighbors wonder why this international corporation controls the musk thistle at their high profile front fence that runs alongside the highway, but ignores the infestation beyond the view of Highway 27 motorists.
Then there is Wheatcraft, situated on the river bank.
Neighbors suspected the berms along Highway 27 were strategically located to hide the dismal reality inside the pits. These berms have now become a seedbed for the musk thistle. Wheatcraft Materials Incorporated has also made a sloppy attempt at control with herbicides.
Do neighbors have a right to expect more appropriate thistle control, given the high risk of chemicals soaking into the soil, the river’s alluvial system and the main river stream?
Quarry neighbors also suffer from unattended quarry thistles, and nearby farmers and ranchers lose the productivity of their land, since these weeds aren’t suitable as agricultural feed and they are sharp and tall, poising injury to livestock and wildlife.
Removal is impossible with the annual seeding from the quarries as well as the seed bank lying dormant from previous years. Any method of control is labor intensive, time consuming, expensive and frustrating. Neighbors can attempt to pop a few out of the ground but this is impossible when faced with a blooming bumper crop. Do we spray and kill everything in site? Do we mow and destroy the wildflower seed bank forever? Unfortunately, the musk thistle blooms and seeds in sync with our native wildflowers.
The quarries are not operating on this Sunday but thistle seeds are still blowing in the wind, soon to land and germinate.
Wouldn’t it all be better, if gravel quarry owners would simply make concerted efforts to control thistles on their property, before they morph from seeds to weeds?