Rose commits to protection Caldwell County water
Dear Friends and Neighbors:
During the last legislative session, our office worked with the Caldwell County Commissioner’s Court and local landowners on legislation to protect our local water resources. As Central Texas continues to thrive and projects like State Highway 130 move forward, our natural resources—and particularly our groundwater—will be in high dema
nd. We must put in place the appropriate safeguards to secure our area’s long-term farming, ranching and economic needs.
Growth along the I-35 corridor has rightfully created concern for local land owners, particularly those in the eastern portion of Caldwell County. With the high demand for water across the state, residents are concerned that the land located above the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer is not included in the boundaries of the Plum Creek Conservation District (district), and therefore not protected from being over-pumped. As cities like San Antonio continue to grow, they will be looking for any source of groundwater, particularly resources in areas that are unregulated and unprotected.
Our existing district was legislatively created in 1957 for flood control purposes and follows the Plum Creek Watershed boundaries in Caldwell and Hays counties. Its statutes were amended on Jan. 1, 1989 to add groundwater responsibilities and the changes were approved by the district’s voters on May 1, 1993. The district is governed by a local board of six directors, two from Hays County and four from Caldwell County, each appointed by their respective commissioners’ court.
After many meetings and input from many stakeholders, our office filed House Bill 4088, legislation that set forth significant and necessary changes to the district’s jurisdiction and authority.
Our legislation, as passed by the House, proposed the following:
(1) Expand the Plum Creek Conservation District to include all parts of Caldwell County not already in the district;
(2) Change the governance of the district from an appointed board to an elected board consisting of seven directors elected from single-member voting districts;
(3) Cap the district’s rate of ad valorem taxation for flood control purposes to a rate not to exceed $0.017 per $100 of valuation of taxable property in the district; and
(4) Require a ratification election by affected Caldwell County residents in order for the district to expand.
Our legislation would have given our local groundwater conservation district the ability to protect all of Caldwell County’s water. Under the Texas Water Code, the district can adopt rules to protect our water from San Antonio, or any other large metropolitan area, including the authority to collect exportation fees from any producer shipping water outside of the county and to require for the mitigation of damages to well owners whose groundwater production is unreasonably affected by the export of groundwater.
Although HB 4088 was approved by the House of Representatives, it did not pass the Senate before the end of the legislative session. Our office will refile this bill if necessary when the Legislature reconvenes in January of 2009. In the meantime, local landowners have the legal authority to petition any adjacent groundwater conservation district for annexation. As it should be, these decisions will be made at the local level and any annexation, whether by petition or legislative action, must be ratified by the affected landowners.
Our office will continue to be a resource on this issue throughout the legislative interim and we will be closely following the efforts of your fellow Caldwell County residents. Should legislation to protect Caldwell County be needed at the start of the next legislative session in 2009, I will be ready to file our bill again and will work tirelessly to pass it. You can see the text of HB 4088 as Enrolled by the House online at www.capitol.state.tx.us. Our office welcomes your thoughts and input on this important matter. For more information and should I be able to be of assistance to you and your family, you can reach me at your Capitol office at (512) 463-0647, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX, 78768.
District 45 State Representative
Patrick M. Rose