Jason Isaac files three bills to conserve ground water

By: 

Senior News Reporter

State Representative Jason Isaac filed three bills to protect Texas water resources this legislative session and told citizens at a Wimberley town hall meeting Feb. 10 two more are planned for next month.

The five pieces of legislation, if passed, will extend groundwater conservation districts in Hays County, add limited regulation to portions of aquifers and change household usage laws to promote conservation. 

Isaac said he is committed to conserving the groundwater in Hays County.

“It is our source of life, and it’s our source of economy in this geographic area of the state,” Isaac said at the meeting. “It is necessary to change the geographic boundaries of the groundwater conservation district.”

One of the bills already filed would change household water usage laws if passed. It would create a property tax evaluation exemption for citizens who have made a commitment to install rainwater collection systems in their homes, Isaac said.

The bill would prevent property taxes from increasing for Hays County citizens who have installed the systems.

Property taxes tend to go up when people add rainwater collection systems to their homes even though the installation is intended for conservation, Isaac said. 

“That’s a penalty, in my opinion,” Isaac said. “It is a disincentive to add rainwater collection to your home, and that’s what we need to do. We already need property tax relief in this state, and this (could be) a solution.”

The unregulated areas of the Trinity Aquifer became problematic for citizens after the City of Buda hired Electro Purification (EP) to begin plans to extract five million gallons of water from the aquifer per day.

Citizens held signs reading “Friends don’t steal from friends,” “Save our wells” and “Don’t pump paradise!” at the town hall meeting.

Occasional chants of protest arose as representatives from Buda and EP took the stage to present their side of the story. Isaac urged audience members to let it be an educational experience and remain civil. 

Tim Throckmorton, manager and founder of EP, said his customers tried to work with governmental entities in Hays County to obtain water citizens and landowners “have a right to have.”

“Time and time again, (citizens) were told ‘no’ because those entities didn’t have jurisdiction or the water to sell, and when viable alternatives were presented, the agencies rejected those ideas, too,” Throckmorton said.

Kaveh Khorzad, senior hydrogeologist for Wet Rock Groundwater Services, said EP intends to share current availability data and future wells with authorities and the general public.

“What government agencies couldn’t accomplish, EP delivered,” Throckmorton said. “We are happy to be providing a solution of keeping Hays County water going to Hays County communities.”

Throckmorton said he met with Commissioner Will Conley, Precinct 3, in May 2011 to discuss the project. The commissioner did not express any objections. 

Conley came to the podium at the Feb. 10 meeting. He said his assistant looked through years of scheduling records and found no appointments with EP and had no recollection of such matters being discussed. 

Conley raised a finger, pointed directly at the EP representatives and said, “We want you out of Hays County.”

A portion of the crowd rose to their feet as they cheered in agreement.  

Throckmorton said the contract will be canceled if EP officials are not able to provide an adequate quantity and quality of water during the nine-month survey period.