San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

August 17th, 2011
In a fluid competition, Hays seeks to lock down water for the future

by BRAD ROLLINS

Hays County commissioners staked a claim to a water supply for the future on Tuesday, unanimously approving a letter of intent to buy 25,000 to 45,000 acre-feet of groundwater each year for 50 years from a private company that plans to pump from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer to the east.

“Water rights in Texas are up for grabs. … This is an attempt by Hays County to get our names in the pot so when they start divvying up the water, they’ll have some for Hays County,” said County Judge Bert Cobb. Even under the best scenario, Hays County won’t see any Carrizo-Wilcox water from the deal for at least two years, Cobb said.

Forestar Group Inc., a real estate and development spin-off of the lumber behemoth Temple-Inland corporation, owns or leases 18,000 acres in the Carizzo-Wilcox region, said Chris Nines, the company’s chief financial officer. Much of that is property over the Simsboro formation of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer in Bastrop and Lee counties, rights it acquired when it bought out Sustainable Water Resources, one of the big-name water speculators seeking to buy water and move it to Austin, San Antonio and communities like Hays County in between. The company can’t start pumping water without permits from the Smithville-based Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District and other companies are seeking those permits as well.

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