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

May 6th, 2009
Guest Column: Rose states position on HTGCD authority

Guest Column
District 45 State Representative

Last week, Sen. Jeff Wentworth and I presented legislation relating to the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (district) before the House and Senate Natural Resources Committees. House Bill 4796 and Senate Bill 2530 would provide the district funding to conduct research needed to protect our groundwater and, very important for Hays County families, do so while respecting our private property rights and without raising taxes or creating a new tax.

The district, as created by the Legislature in 2001 and approved by voters in 2003 during my first term, is charged with the conservation, preservation, recharge, and prevention of waste of the groundwater within western Hays County.

Compared to other groundwater districts created in Chapter 36 of the Water Code, however, this district’s powers, as approved by Hays County voters, are limited. The district contends that its limited authority, especially its inability to charge an ad valorem tax, has severely hampered the district’s ability to fulfill its mission.

This session, the district requested numerous new powers including allowing district employees to enter private property, decreasing the number of grandfathered wells and allowing the district Chapter 36 taxing authority, which would, in law, allow up to 50 cents per $100 valuation. I do not believe that during these difficult economic times homeowners should be asked to pay more taxes on their home and property.

Sen. Wentworth and I expressed our ad valorem tax and property rights concerns to the district’s directors and they agreed to work with our offices on a new approach. Sen. Wentworth and I came up with a funding solution and took the directors’ verbal support as their word. With that agreement to work together, we filed legislation that requires the district to conduct a study of groundwater availability and sustainability, and allows the district to charge a flat, $2 a month groundwater conservation and management fee to finance the study.

The guidelines for charging the fee are restricted and laid out in the proposed law as follows: the fee can only be charged of customers that are served by wells that are pumping over 25,000 gallons a day, the amount of money the fee may collect is capped at $100,000 per year, and the authority to charge the fee ends in two years, in time to evaluate a report that the district must submit to the Hays County Commissioner’s Court prior to the next regular session of the Legislature. We do not propose making any changes to the district’s powers and authorities.

Sen. Wentworth and I believe that this is the right step forward for the district and for our community.

Unfortunately, after the district’s board president committed to work with us to promote and pass this bill, the board later reversed position and passed a resolution opposing the legislation, continuing their push for taxing and greater regulatory authority. The district has said that it needs $500,000 annually to conduct its business. According to documents provided by the district, its current annual budget is at least $148,000. Our legislation would have increased its budget by $100,000 a year, making great progress for the district. Sen. Wentworth and I are not going to promote legislation opposed by the very district we are trying to assist. Because the district recently reversed its position, this legislation will not proceed.

If you are a Hays County resident interested in protecting your water, then you will also want to follow two other pieces of legislation that our office is championing. HB 3265 grants the commissioners’ courts of some Hill Country counties, including Blanco and Hays, limited authority to regulate land development in the unincorporated area of the county. If approved by the voters, the county would be allowed the authority to set density of development, building and setback lines, a targeted infrastructure cost recovery fee and restrictions on incompatible land use.

The ability to use these powers is based directly on the desire to protect our limited groundwater, and any infrastructure fees assessed must be spent on road improvements that serve the new development. It is important that we grow in a way that protects our natural resources and that sustains our local economies.

In order to promote smarter, sustainable development and water conservation, we must better utilize rainwater harvesting in the Texas Hill Country. HB 4299 makes great strides in setting standards and guidelines for the use of rainwater so that Texas homeowners are protected, and so that banks are encouraged to work with developers to use rainwater as a real alternative to groundwater.

Both HB 3265 and HB 4299 have been favorably voted out of committee and await debate on the House floor. For more information about any of these bills, or if we can be of assistance on any other matter, please give us a call here at your Capitol office at (512) 463-0647. You can also reach us by email at or by mail at P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX, 78768.

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37 thoughts on “Guest Column: Rose states position on HTGCD authority

  1. I would like to personally thank represenative Rose for taking the time to explain his current position on this and to give us the background history that has led to that position. Groundwater and property rights are things that a lot of folks around here have very strong opinions about.

    Encouraging rainwater harvest is a much needed option for rural dwellers. Helping to make it more acessible is a very good thing. If you are building a place to live you can spend $ 10,000 and hook up to the LCRA surface water line, and pay a monthly bill. Or you can make a down payment to your well driller. you will not know how much more your well will cost and you wont know what kind of water you will get from it. Or you can put in a top notch rainwater system with lots of storage tanks. You will know what to expect for your future supply. If there is a drought you will have a big tank and can have some water delivered. Since you will know how much water you have on hand at any time, you will probabally use less during times of drought. 2″ of rain on 3000 sq ft of roof yeilds 3740 gallons.

  2. Please Representative Rose. Give us a break. We didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.

    Representative Rose tries to dazzle us with BS. In contrast, I will get straight to the point.

    Rose says he can’t support taxing authority for the Hays Trinity Groundwater District and he can’t support the idea of District representatives having access to private property.

    Give us a break, Patrick. Let’s not pay attention to what you say. Let’s look at what you’re doing.

    You’ve got three bills going through the Legislature right now: HB4725; HB4825; and HB2441. Each creates a utility district and —— (everyone needs to be sitting down for this part) —— each district has the power of taxation and one with eminent domain power. In short, the Rose districts not only have taxing authority, they go beyond the right of the district to enter property. The Rose districts have the power to take someone’s property.

    Yes, Representative Rose. We’ve decided to stop listening to what you say. We’re paying attention to what you do.

  3. Hey Chucky. Do you ever bother to actual read these bills? One creates a MUD (HB 4725) , one creates basically what some might consider a good master planned community around the Salt Lick (HB 4825, with no power of eminent domain), and the other one is about recreational facilities(HB 2441) – what is that about ??????

    But then, you already have your swimming pool in place. Right? Some of us are still waiting for that confirmation. Can we have an answer now? Or maybe you fill it with grey water from your shower…..

  4. Lila,

    Are you STILL trying to get Charles to invite you over for a swim?

    Interesting obsession you got there.

  5. Those of you who do not get their water out of the Hays County section of the Trinity Aquifer, I would just like to say that we have a bit of a problem over here in western Hays County. We cannot properly monitor, regulate or adequately conserve our groundwater supply the way the law is currently written and we cannot get our State Representative, Patrick Rose to support legislation that would change that.

    Our water district is not reliably funded, has no authority at all over 95% of the wells here and no way to truly make sure we can plan for a continuing supply of water.

    In Buda, Kyle and San Marcos you are fortunate to have a fully-funded and fully-authorized groundwater district and that is all we are trying to get over here in the western part of the county, but we cannot get Patrick Rose to support our water district’s efforts to do water research, planning or enforcement.

    As you know, one can still have water problems even with full authority. We are all vulnerable to the whims of water supply corp.’s, developers and of course, the weather. We could use a little common sense,water science and accountability thrown into the mix.

    We cannot seem to convince Rep. Rose that the most important thing we can do with our water supply is to plan for the future. These short-term solutions to very long-term problems are getting us nowhere.

    Why won’t Patrick Rose support the Hays Trinity GCD?

    Because they changed their minds and decided not to settle for a bill that gave them nothing in the way of more authority or funding to do their job?

    Because they decided to write a compromise bill that reflected the wishes of so many of their constituents?

    Because they said, “No” to Patrick Rose?

    I have no idea and Patrick’s explanation isn’t good enough for me or my neighbors who depend on him to actually represent our interests, not just those of the developers and water supply corporations.

  6. I co-own a well with three neighboring homeowners. The Edwards Aquafer Authority says we must either cap the well, put individual meters to measure usage and pay for our water, or drill individual wells. We will also have to pay an approximate $1500 fine for believing we would be grandfathered in, since this agreement is over 25 years old. This problem is overwhelming, and none of us have the $10,000 setting around to drill and equip a new well. The individual we report to is overwhelmed, too. He can’t wait to retire and give these headaches to someone else. We don’t have that option.

  7. Oh Charles and Django. We are so lucky to have you two watchdogs in our community to fight big bad Patrick Rose. You both sound so much alike that if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were the same person.

  8. no amout of lies from mr odell and his other made up names he posts under will change the fact that most of the people in the Hays-Trinity area do not support the originally proposed legislation or the “compromise” put forth by the H-T board. Represenative Rose is just following the wishes of the majority of the people he represents who live in the Trinity area. Consider the fact that the folks in Comal county have voted twice to dissolve their Trinity aquifer gcd and you ought to realize that there is a high probability that most residents do not support giving a lot of power over a part of their property rights to another government agency. Anyone who knows some of the things that the EAA has been doing in the “big Edwards” part of Hays county will understand that.

    The optomists says the glass is half full
    The pessimists says the glass is half empty
    The engineer says the glass is twice as big as it needs to be
    The geologists says, we have had this much rain lately so there is that much in the glass.
    lately some folks have been saying If we let people drill wells on lots smaller than 12 acres the glass will be empty. It seems that most people are not buying that.

  9. I am not Dr. O’Dell. He is not me.

    I am honored, though, that someone might mistake my humble scratchings for his work.

  10. Andy G.

    “…mr odell and his other made up names he posts under…”

    What names might those be Andy?

    “Represenative Rose is just following the wishes of the majority of the people he represents who live in the Trinity area.”

    You took a count? And what was the tally?

    Andy…you, Nick Ramus (BerniceB?), and Lila Darling are quite a trio. Birds of a feather.

  11. here we have proof positive that mr odell has multiple personality posting disorder

    We are in a major drought can anyone tell us 10 wells that have run dry in the last month ?

    Back a few years ago everyone knew that drilling a well in certain parts of this county was like shooting dice. why do people now expect the government to guarantee something they never did in the past.

  12. Very intersting Mr. Odell. Django was a movie in the 60’s. I a guessing that was your era. It is also interesting that for the last five weeks that you have posted Django posts the next commnent. Pure conincidence? I doubt it. Many of the posts come within a few minutes. Few people would say they were honored that someone would mistake themselves for you!!
    Only a person as delusional and egotistical would make such a comment.

  13. Oh and one more thing Chuckster,,,take a look back at Nick Ramus’ posts,,,you will notice that he misspells about every forth word,,, so it’s really easy to tell if it’s really him writing.

  14. Yep, BerniceB is as I suspected…Nick Ramus. Ramus always accuses others of what he does. That’s his MO.

    Thanks Nicko for clearing that up.

  15. how in the heck did this thread get hijacked to Nick Ramus ? Have I ever mentioned that the county lost the lawsuit aginst him and that you brilliant county commissioners threw away at least $ 400,000 of your tax dollars. all for a horrible lady who is out there at this very minute breaking environmental laws left and right. This thread ought to be about ground water and the Hays-Trinity. anyone got that list of 10 wells that have gone dry in the last 4 to 6 months yet. If that liar and coward mr c “gobbels” odell really had some actual information, he could put up or shut up. he is too much of a coward to even sign his name on all of his posts. why cant he go back to where ever he came from in yankee land.

    A lot of peole I know ask me what does the Hays-Trinity gcd do ? I have been involved with a group of geologist who have worked as volunteers studying the groundwater geology since before the district was formed. This has resulted in a much better understanding of how the various rocks of the Glen Rose, Cow Creek and other formations of the Trinity vary from place to place. There is a unique confluence of some of the best old school geology meeting modern digital age geologists/technology at the H-T. As a central collection place for all the data we have for wells in the county the district provides the framework that enables this work to progress. When you think of the economic value of this resource does it not make sense to spend a small fraction of that value to support such efforts ? Since a lot of the folks who live in the district are now watching the process closely we can hope that something based on wide community support can be worked out to provide the needed support.

  16. You have to understand Andy that whenever O’Dell is around, everyone becomes Nick Ramus. My theory is O’Dell has some kind of “Brokeback Mountain” fixation on Ramus. It’s really a fetish at this point.

    But, like I said, we’re all Ramus to O’Dell when we disagree with him, which happens a lot.

    The real truth of the matter is O’Dell is a faux wanna-be public watchdog who, in the end, is totally harmless. We all mock him, but I have yet to met anyone who really takes him seriously or sees him as a threat.

  17. Yo! I’m *trying* to inform my newcomer-yankee mind about the water issues here in Hays county, but you guys are sure doing your best to make it difficult.

    Would it be so hard to discuss the ISSUES with out all the personal attacks and insults? Yes, this is a public forum, and yes we do have free speech here in the USA, but what are you accomplishing with all this trash talk? What about some real figures, some references, some resources???

    I’ve read through this several times, and still can’t figure out the pertinent facts. All I can say for sure is that you all have bones to pick with each other!

  18. A great movie to watch if you can find it is “Cadillac Desert: Water and the Transformation of Nature – Mulholland’s Dream (1996)” It tells the story of the expansion of Los Angeles despite there being no water to support the population. There are a lot of paralells to Central Texas.

  19. The Hays-trinty groundwater conservation district has a website at That would be a good place for anyone interested in the facts to check out.

  20. Thanks Cori, Andy, and Phil for actually getting back on track. I too find the personal attacks regretful and off topic to adding to a public discourse about our water situation.

    (For the record folks, Mr O’Dell does research, and does at least coherently tackle issues, whether you agree with his views or not. There are no health violations on the property adjoining Mr. Ramus, Andy, and that landowner has nothing to do with this (kind of slanderous if you ask me…). And finally, Mr. Ramus has as much right as any Hays citizen to speak his mind, but I wish he would have done more the speaking and challenging when he was a candidate for comissioners’ court.)

  21. Thanks for the info! I’ll check the website, and Look for the movie. Is this based on the book by a similar name? I read that many moons ago in any case, time to look it over again.


  22. They have Cadillac Desert at the San Marcos public libriary. Another good book about the misuse of groundwater resources is “killing the hidden waters”

    Mr David Baker of Jacobs Well was running unopposed for one of the seats on the Hays-Trinity board in yestrdays election. I assume he won, so congratulations to him are in order. He has his fingers on the pulse of the H-T aquifer in a very unique way.

    some of the other things that the H-T GCD is doing these days involves communicating with the adjoining groundwater control districts. Blanco county, Travis and even Caldwell and Guadalupe counties. The rocks dont stop at the county line and what is going on in one county can affect conditions in the neighbors.

    If you think we have problems, consider Caldwell co. they started drilling oil wells in the Luling,Lockhart Lytton Springs areas back about 1923. Back then environmental standards were not as strict. There are many old abandoned and unplugged well out in the mesquites. The Texas Railroad commission map has 10,082 points for wells in that county. There are full API number records for only 7212 of those wells, meaning we think there were about 3000 drilled before good record keeping started with the state. we have plugging records for 1714 of those wells, but once again we are not sure about any wells before the late 30’s There are , I think, about 1800 wells still in production. Just roll down you windows when you drive thru Stairtown next time you go to Luling for some bar-b-que. you can tell when you go by. this leaves a lot of unplugged wells, capped and out of service or abandoned and “orphan”. As the old casings corrode these wells can provide pathways for oil field brines to leak into the local aquifer. People out there use the Carrizo-Wilcox sand aquifers and there are lots of water wells. Caldwell county is far from unique in this , every county east of IH 35 has this problem to a greater or lesser degree. As the new highways get built more people will be moving out into those areas. In its way that part of Texas is just as pretty as the hill country. There are plenty of real groundwater problems in our region so peoples efforts ought to go to finding solutions.

    Re my comment on Nick’s neighbor I just find it sort of odd that a person who is dumping many hundreds of tons of fill material on their land and not putting up any silt fences or doing any sort of erosion control is the same person that raised such a stink when the new school was built over that very same issue. yes no health issues since stormwater pollution is not a health issue. If it was on the Edwards recharge zone it would be a big fine. It just irritates me when some landowner does a bunch of stuff that ought to be permitted and says that they are doing agriculture and dont need to. When actually they plan all along to sell out to development. We see this way too often.

  23. Andy,

    Your wrote:
    “how in the heck did this thread get hijacked to Nick Ramus? Have I ever mentioned that the county lost the lawsuit aginst him and that you brilliant county commissioners threw away at least $ 400,000 of your tax dollars”

    Why haven’t you ever mentioned that you are the Sanitarian who put your seal on the Ramus cesspool design…and did so AFTER Ramus had already begun to install his cesspool and before obtaining an Authorization to Construct from the County EHD? I’ve seen your dated designs (several dates) and the Authorization to Construct.

    And please identify the $400,000 county expenses you referenced. Can you provide a source for your number so we can verify the accuracy of your claim?

    If you were informed or were posting in good faith you would know that the issue with construction of the new High School wasn’t an absence of silt fences…there were plenty of them in place. The problem was redirecting substantial stormwater runoff onto the adjacent agricultural property. That’s against the law and a lot of folks, including engineers are asking why the City of San Marcos approved a plat that illegally redirected stormwater runoff.

    And you should direct your irritation about agricultural exemptions to those developers who “park” large tracts with an ag exemption to reduce their property taxes…not to a genuine farmer who has lived on her land for 38 years and raises pure bred goats for a living. That’s real agriculture.

    Can you tell the difference between a goat farmer and a developer, or are you just making up your posts to mislead readers?

  24. I was enjoying the discussion of water issues-this isn’t a thread about Ramus v. O’Dell. Could we get back to that? I’m curious to know more about the Carrizo-Wilcox and the issue of unplugged wells.

    But on the subject of water, how’s that pool of yours Charles?

  25. Lila Darling,

    You don’t enjoy anything…and you don’t have to defend Andy just because he and Barton are playing a game with the public.

    I was reminiscing about when you bought me lunch at the Cafe on the Square in San Marcos, and tried to persuade me to stop exposing Jeff. I must be a BIG disappointment to you.

    Did you ever swim in a pool of rainwater? It’s better than a swim in the creek.

  26. Charles said to Lila, “Did you ever swim in a pool of rainwater? It’s better than a swim in the creek.”

    Okay, Lila, this is about as close to an invitation you are gonna get. I would jump on it. In it.

  27. Charles you definitely have a weird fixation with this Ramus person don’t you? Maybe you have been watching “Brokeback Mountain” movie too much!!! Haven’t you figured it out yet, NO ONE cares about your fixation with him! And if you truly have a PhD, you’d be able to recognize the obsession with Ramus isn’t healthy. Get some meds or go see a therapist before you flip out and hurt someone or yourself. Please. Everyone else, including Newsstream, please just ignore him… just like the wacko’s on that stupid dog speeding thing.. then he will go away!!!!!

  28. Adam,

    Welcome. You conveniently overlook that I responded to Rep. Rose and then the Charles Soechting hounds jumped in.

    Andy Grubbs raised the Ramus matter. I just asked why he failed to disclose his close relationship with Ramus and Pope.

    Now an Adam shows up to deride me so you must be one of the hounds.

    Carry on.

  29. You boys carry on about such trifle matters. Your house is burning to the ground and all you can think about is your prize collection of nudity magazines in the basement!

  30. Can we avoid the personal attacks? These cheap shots are beneath the dignity of the posters involved. Perhaps not having moderators is a bad idea.

    BTW- Did Rose and Wentworth ever think that people move to unincorporated areas to avoid the government regulations?

  31. Charles lives in an unincorporated area.
    Hey, was that really an invitation to come swim in your rainwater-filled pool?

  32. I just spoke with a water well servicing fellow who was replacing the well pump for my neighbor, and he told me how busy he was replacing burnt out well pumps.

    Seems there are so many wells pulling water from the Trinity Aquifer that the water table has dropped from about 250′ 10 years ago to 315′ today, and wells that are working at 2PM have their pumps left high and dry after everyone comes home from work and turn on the water, dropping the water table throughout the connected Trinity Aquifer area.

    Replacing a well pump costs $1,500 – $2,000 + (the neighbor pump is nine years old), and Rose doesn’t want the Groundwater Conservation District to ask property owners for a 2 cents/$100 tax to pay for continued research on how much water there is in each area, and for permitting staff when new folks (mostly developers) want to drill new wells. (That would be $40 annually for a property appraised at $200,000…or 50 years worth of replacing just one pump.)

    Who does Rose think he is fooling by catering to special interests?

  33. there is a obvious lack of understanding of very basic hydro principles in the prior post. either that or just basic misrepresenting of facts. Limestone aquifers transmit water rapidly, but do not hold a lot of water in storage. you can pump out a lot of water quickly, but sand aquifers which yeild more slowly have a lot more water. during times of intense drought the water table drops, the river flow drops, springs dry up. when it starts raining again the water table comes back up, the springs start to run again. The little salamanders come back out from the recesses of the aquifer and frolic in the creeks. It is known that some trinity wells can come of 60′ or more from one rain event.

    Water in sand aquifers is in all the spaces between the grains. Because of the resistance to flow the wells yeild more slowly. In limestones there is not as much space between the grains because that type of porosity tends to become cemented shut by mineralization as time goes on. Water in limestones is mainly in the fractures and open channels dissolved out by moving water. There is less friction to the flow so if teh fractuers adn voids are well interconnected water can run very fast. The amount of water in the glass is directly related to the amount of fairly recent rainfall

    The Trinity is named that because it is a cyclic series of rocks that show the ocean rose and fell 3 times during that period of the Earths history. most of the water is pumped from the limestones but there are also some sandstones in the mix.

    Someone way upthread was asking about the Carrizo-Wilcox and the old abandoned oil wells east of IH 35. As you go east of IH 35 the limestones of the hill country are buried ever deeper under sands and muds. They all tilt gently towards the gulf of Mexico. out around Luling the Edwards limestone is 3000 to 3500 feet below the surface. The oil is there in areas where mineralization created porosity and fault fracturing created interconnection ( permability) The Railroad Commission has a program to plug the old abandoned oil wells. it gets paid for by fees on new drilling and the district out of San Antonio does a lot of plugging. During the last session of the Ledge a new law was passed allowing a landowner with a abandoned oil well on their land to take over the well in order to get it plugged. People may have oil wells on their land but they do not own them. the wells are owned by the company that leased the mineral rights and had the wells drilled. So that was good step foward.

    Back in the 60s Shell had a couple of exploratory wells drilled out in the Trinity area of Hays county. Most of what we know about what rocks that lie below the Trinity comes from those wells. Over the years there has been a lot of speculation about what might be down there.

  34. Thanks for the info. We hear a lot about the Edwards and the Trinity, but never much about the Carrizo-W formation.

    That previous post reminds me of what a friend said who was living in Dripping told me 15 years ago. Same story. Guess things haven’t changed. People just keep moving to an area with very little water. And they keep drilling deeper. And they keep complaining when it’s not deep enough. I’m sorry they are surprised to find out about this after moving from urban areas where surface water is plentiful. I’m not sure laying all the fault at the developers door is right. If you don’t buy it, they won’t build it. People have to own up to their personal choices. They want to live in a beautiful place with meager resources. Well, maybe this is just Nature’s way of telling them to just go away. Move back to the city and visit her on weekends – if you really care.

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