Re: Aransas County Groundwater Conservation District | by Burt Mills, Aransas County Judge

May 2, 2016

To the Readers of WWN Rockport:

"Below please find answers to additional questions being raised by the public regarding the Aransas County Groundwater Conservation District.

1. Why is information about the District available just now?

Informational talks have been given to many professional and civic organizations for several months. Articles have also been published in the Rockport Pilot about the creation of the District since its authorization last summer by the Texas legislature. These articles and talks apparently have not reached the attention of the general public and have just now gotten attention after a presentation was made to City Council.

2. Why is some information about what the District will be doing general and not specific? (Sounds like Obama Care)

The District will be operating under a Management Plan which must be approved by the Texas Water Development Board. The District must prepare the Plan within two years of its confirmation. The plan will be supported by ”Rules” which govern what the District can do to carry out its objective which is to manage groundwater over the next 50 years to meet specific levels in our aquifers. Some of these Rules will require public input which will be requested in public hearings. This is a lengthy and costly process and cannot be completed without funding which will be not available until the District is confirmed.

3. How will tax revenues be spent?

Day to day operations of the District will require a small staff including a General Manager, secretarial help and field technicians. The District will need to contract for engineering, legal and book keeping services which will not be required full time. Administrative costs including office space, copier, computer(s) and software as found in any business will be required. Test wells may be required to monitor groundwater levels. Travel expenses will be incurred in coordination with GMA15 and Region N. A comprehensive budget will be developed prior to establishing a tax rate. The District will also be required to pay for the costs of elections beginning in 2018.

4. Why can’t County Commissioners and the County staff handle these requirements?

The Texas Water Code specifically requires the creation of Groundwater Conservation Districts to manage groundwater resources. Without a local Conservation District Aransas County property owners are at the mercy of decisions made by Conservation Management Area15, Region N and surrounding County Conservation Districts with respect to long term viability of County aquifers and their wells.

5. Why should I have to pay a tax on a well which I already paid for?

The Tax is not a tax on the well but is an ad volorem tax on property. All property owners may benefit from establishing the District and so the tax applies to all.

6. How were the appointed Directors selected?

Each Commissioner used his judgment and knowledge of his Precinct to select a Precinct Director for the District. Generally selection depended on experience in managing water related resources, education or equivalent work experience in government, industry or business, and time available away from their full time employment or other commitments.

7. Will we lose our water rights if we give up the Rule of Capture?

Property owners will not lose their water rights. They may give up some control over operating their wells which might be governed by the District in support of Conservation issues like well spacing, volume of water which can be pumped (wells over 25,000 gallons per day), abuse or waste of water.

8. If the District is not approved at this time can it be included on a future ballot?

The District can be confirmed by election next year but at additional cost. The information in support of or against the District will not change with the passage of time and some experience gained by appointed temporary Directors could be lost. A great deal of time and effort invested to date will likely have to be repeated. To date this work has been voluntarily given at no cost to the public."

Burt Mills
Aransas County Judge

(Letter sent to the WWN via email by Tom Callan on May 2, 2016

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