GUEST COMMENTARY by WILL CONLEY
A few weeks ago the Commissioner’s Court, in a bi-partisan resolution, voted 4-0-1 (our Judge decided not to vote) on a resolution asking the Texas Legislature to give our local groundwater district more authority in the western portion of the county. It’s a good resolution that gives the Hays Trinity Groundwater District full chapter 36 authority on all new development, puts everyone under a drought contingency plan, and allows the HTGD to gather fees and information to better understand the Trinity.
It also protects existing residential well owners and platted lot owners from intrusive, unnecessary government intervention and production fees. I don’t support everything in the resolution, but it is necessary in order for us to gain more control over new development that is needed in our area.
For some in our community this wasn’t enough. It’s not enough to say every new well in the western part of the county is going to be fully regulated; it’s not enough to say we all must register our wells and follow drought contingency plans; it’s not enough that the HTGD board members will have longer terms, no county oversight, and have the right to call an election for voter approved taxes. For Judge Sumter and the environmental left, it isn’t enough until they have complete control over all of your resources. They want to meter your well, come on your property without your permission, restrict your pump size, and tax you with production fees. If you own property in the western portion of the county and haven’t drilled your well yet, you may not get the chance. You may be told that the water budget is tapped so you need to haul your water in from another source or use only rainwater harvesting (by the way I believe I am the only member of the Court who actually owns a rain harvesting system). If you own an existing well and want to sell your land, you may be told the water budget is tapped, and you need to sell your land without the use of your well. In short, we would have no historical rights and our private property rights would be drastically reduced.
Fear – You have been told, without a doubt, that the Trinity is out of water. You have been told that our water resources are tapped, and that this government takeover is necessary, in order for any of us to have water in the future. This, however, is untrue. We still don’t know the full capabilities of the Trinity. The scientific studies are incomplete and anyone who states otherwise simply hasn’t reviewed the facts. Now I believe it would be unwise to continue to let development of new wells go unregulated.
The scientific studies I have seen led to my support of full chapter 36 authority on all new development, but I haven’t seen anything that gives me the impression that those of us who are already here need full government regulation. The Edwards Aquifer for example has been studied for many years and they just recently started to regulate existing well owners through ownership changes and they still have some historical rights after the fact. Why not wait until we have a clear picture of what is necessary before we start regulating everyone in our community and infringing on private property rights?
Why? Control and Power! These big government promoters know that if they can control your water resources it will give them almost unlimited control and power over all citizens in the western portion of the county. By fully controlling water resources, they can run the cost of living up, tell you when and where to use your water (i.e. land use control), and continue to promote their own special interests. All of this would be done on your wallet and on your private property rights as a U.S citizen. If we are going to have this type of government influence in our lives, the least we can do is call for an election of the people to see if this is what our citizens really want, just like we did when the HTGD was formed a few years ago. It’s not right to have so few determine the future of so many citizens.
Water is an extremely important issue for the future of central Texas and our state as a whole. We have many challenges that must be met. In Hays County we need a combination of water conservation, surface water, grey water, land conservation, and rain water collection in order to meet future demands. Let’s take a deep breath, truly evaluate the situation and take action. Let’s not jump to conclusions and use the current drought as an excuse for big, intrusive government to jump right in our back yard.
WILL CONLEY is the precinct 3 commissioner.Email | Print