Serving Kerr County with a Conscience


A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, October 19 to gain public opinion on Headwaters Groundwater Conservation District board member Pratt's proposal to switch the cost of well sample collection and analysis from new subdivision drillers to the HGCD thus the taxpayers of Kerr County.

Attention Private Well Owners:  Calls to Kerr County   Conscience indicate a continuing pattern of misinformation by the usual suspects i.e. a few unscrupulous developers, realtors and investors in Kerr County.  The unfortunate pattern is to convince private well owners the HGCD is trying to meter, regulate pumping or assess fees to current or new private wells.  That is not the issue.

The Issue:  If Mr. Pratt's proposal passes the cost of well samples and analysis for large well permits (new subdivision/commercial/industrial development) will become the responsibility of the HGCD and thus the county taxpayers.  Under current rules the driller/developer pays the cost of collection and analysis.  

Background:  Development, whether residential or commercial needs to take place where there is an adequate well water supply.  Unlike surrounding counties our Kerr County Commissioner's Court does not require new subdivision developers to establish a reliable water source before building.  The HGCD is largely dependent upon well samples to determine areas of future sustainable water sources within the county.  This information is currently obtained by securing well samples during the drilling of new large permitted wells which are usually for a new subdivision and public water supply for the subdivision.  The information collected does not affect the well being drilled but allows for mapping of availability and future planning and wise development within the county.   A fee for the collection and analysis of the well sample is $4000 to $6000 currently paid by the driller/developer.  There is no such requirement for domestic well drilling only those developments/new public water systems with multiple connections or pumping huge amounts of water.  
Questions: 1)  Should the county taxpayers bear the expense of well samples for large water systems who will be selling the water for profit to the new subdivision residents thus  making a profit from the same taxpayers main water supply--- the Trinity Aquifer?
  2)  Can you expect private well owners as taxpayers to bear the expense of well samples and also live with the new subdivision residents next door pumping their aquifer to the point of depletion? 
  3) Do county residents deserve appropriate data collection to assure reasonable growth where there is a reliable water source?
Beware:  Board member Pratt has been joined by board president, Gordan Morgan, in suggesting we may not need this information at all.  Just stop collecting the samples.  
 1) Would the absence of any absolute scientific information on groundwater stores in the county lead to the same unplanned growth and water shortages Kendall County is experiencing.  

2) Is it fair to sell new county residents property without a reliable water source supported by scientific data?

Taxpayers should attend this meeting to voice their opinions. Developers, realtors, and investors will be there in force and they carry a lot of weight with some board members.

October 19th 1:30pm UGRA building

F. Lovett

Build--Build--Build! Where's the Water?

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:
  • 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
Responses to the above reasoning included:
  • 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
    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.

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.

F. Lovett