Voters choose to join Gonzales County UWCD
By LPR Staff
Of 784 eligible voters, only 211 voted to determine whether some 77,000 acres in eastern Caldwell County should be subject to the pumping and taxing rules of the Gonzales County Underground Water Conservation District.
The annexation of Caldwell County property into the Gonzales district, which has been a hot-button issu
e for residents and politicians for some time, was decided by a wide margin, with 177 voters choosing to accept the annexation and 34 standing against it.
Despite efforts by County Judge H.T. Wright, the Caldwell County Commissioners Court and State Representative Patrick Rose for the last several years, the area had been largely unprotected and was not subject to the strident pumping restrictions of the Plum Creek Underground Water Conservation District, which governs the rest of the county.
Efforts to have the subject property annexed by Plum Creek failed after becoming tangled in political efforts. Finally, property owners petitioned the Gonzales County UWCD for annexation, a proposal which the board accepted in November.
That petition set into motion not only the election, but a grassroots effort by some property owners to have their land voluntarily annexed into the Plum Creek district. Though Plum Creek accepted the voluntary annexation, questions arose as to whether the maneuver was legal, or was simply an attempt to circumvent the election process.
Gonzales County UWCD General Manager Barry Miller said he was satisfied with the voter turnout, and is prepared to move forward with adding the property to the district’s tax rolls.
“In the area annexed, the voters were voting to impose our taxes upon themselves,” Miller said. “Now that they have, [we] will file the metes and bounds with the Caldwell County Clerk and work with the Caldwell County Appraisal District to have those properties appraised.”
Miller said all wells currently in existence will be “grandfathered in,” but that new wells that are drilled for purposes other than livestock or domestic use which pump 25,000 gallons per day or more will be required to obtain permits from the district.
“We’re going about the process of recording the locations of the existing wells and will start enforcing our rules on the new wells,” he said.
Taxpayers in the area are expected to see the Gonzales County UWCD tax levy on their tax statements in October.