Groundwater Conservation Districts Survey


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Presentation a Texas Water Law Conference, April 11-12, 2013, San Antonio

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Groundwater Conservation Districts Survey

  1. 1. Groundwater Conservation Districts Survey Stacey A. Steinbach Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts Texas Water Law Conference April 11, 2013
  2. 2. GCDs: History and StatusGCD DatabaseSurvey Results
  3. 3. Starting Point: Rule of Capture• Adopted as Texas law in 1904 East decision• Landowners have right to capture an unlimited amount of groundwater beneath their property• Called “law of non-liability” and “law of the biggest pump”• Exceptions: trespass, malicious or wanton conduct, waste, contamination, subsidence due to negligent overpumping
  4. 4. History of GCDs• 1917: Conservation Amendment to Texas Constitution (Article XVI, Section 59)• 1949: Statutory framework for creation of GCDs• 1997: GCDs are the “State’s preferred method of groundwater management” (SB 1)• 2013: 97 confirmed GCDs; 2 awaiting confirmation; 2 subsidence districts “I favor no control, but if we must have it, let it be local”
  5. 5. Source: John Dupnik, BSEACD
  6. 6. GCDs at a Glance• GCDs currently cover all or part of 172 counties• Oldest and largest GCD: High Plains UWCD No. 1 (created in 1951 and more than 10,000 square miles; includes all or part of 16 counties)• Smallest GCD: Red Sands GCD in Hidalgo County (31 square miles)• Some have weather modification and other programs, some are multi-purpose districts
  7. 7. GCDs at a Glance• 2008: 85% of all reported groundwater use occurred within the boundaries of a GCD• 2008: more than half of all reported groundwater use came from Ogallala Aquifer• 2004: agriculture use made up nearly 80% of all groundwater use
  8. 8. Potential New GCDs: 83rd Lege• Calhoun County GCD: HB 3915 (HNRC); SB 1835 (out of SNRC)• Deep East Texas GCD: HB 3880 (HSPD); SB 1840 (SNRC) (had hearings this week)• Comal Trinity GCD: HB 3924 (HNRC)• Western Travis County GCD: HB 2640 (HSPD)• Reeves County GCD: HB 2149 (HSPD); SB 890 (HSPD)
  9. 9. GCDs Generally• GCDs are local government entities created pursuant to the Texas Constitution• GCDs may make and enforce rules to conserve, preserve, protect, and recharge groundwater in order to control subsidence, prevent degradation of water quality, or prevent waste
  10. 10. How GCDs Manage Groundwater• Contribute to scientific understanding of aquifers (measure water quality/quantity)• Educate and inform the community• Participate in joint and regional planning• Regulate the drilling of wells and production of groundwater per Chapter 36
  11. 11. Water Code Chapter 36• Well registration/permits• Reporting requirements• Well construction standards• Well spacing requirements• Production limitations
  12. 12. Well Registration (Exempt Wells)1. Wells exempted by GCD board2. Certain domestic and livestock wells (> 10 acres and 25,000 gpd max capacity3. Certain oil and gas drilling/exploration wells4. Certain surface mining wells
  13. 13. Exempt ≠ Unregulated Registration and construction requirements plus:1. Wells exempted by GCD board (spacing, reporting)2. Certain domestic and livestock wells (> 10 acres and 25,000 gpd max capacity (spacing)3. Certain oil and gas drilling/exploration wells (spacing, reporting)4. Certain surface mining wells (reporting)
  14. 14. Reporting Requirements• GCD may require reports on: – Drilling, equipping, and completing of wells – Production and use of groundwater• Independent of permitting/registration process, but certain D&L wells exempt• Allows for use of “reasonable and appropriate” reporting methods
  15. 15. Well Spacing Requirements• GCD spacing requirements may be: – from property lines and/or other wells – capacity and size-based• State agency spacing regulations: – TCEQ (30 TAC Chapter 290) – TDLR (16 TAC Chapter 76) (SBs 1249, 1387)
  16. 16. Production Limitations• GCDs may – Set production limits on wells – Limit amount of water produced based on acreage, tract size, or assigned acres – Limit amount of water produced on an af/acre or gpm/well site/acre basis – Implement limits to achieve managed depletion
  17. 17. Production Limitations• GCDs may preserve historic use if the limitations: – apply equally to all new permits/ historic use amendments; – bear a reasonable relationship to management plan; and – are reasonably necessary to protect existing use.• GCDs may consider the service area of a retail water utility in imposing limitations based on tract size• GCDs may adopt different rules for different aquifers or geographic areas within the GCD
  18. 18. GCDs: History and StatusGCD DatabaseSurvey Results
  19. 19. TAGD Member Database Survey of 81 TAGD GCD members with a review of GCD enabling legislation and rules GCD Name Community Type Income Source Legislation Largest Use Reporting RequirementsNumber of Counties Board Member Selection Meter Requirements Counties Spacing Requirements Number of Board GCD Population Members Production Limitations
  20. 20. GCDs: History and StatusGCD DatabaseSurvey Results
  21. 21. Number of Counties Per GCD OneNumber of Counties Two Three Four Five or More 0 10 20 30 40 50 Number of GCDs
  22. 22. 35 Population Per GCD 30Number of GCDs 25 20 15 10 5 0 < 10,000 10,001 - 50,001 - 100,001 - > 500,000 50,000 100,000 500,000 Population Size
  23. 23. Type of Community Suburban Rural Urban
  24. 24. Largest Groundwater User Municipal Oil & Gas Water Supply 8% 36% Combination Industrial/ 3%Commercial 1% Domestic/ Agriculture Livestock 36% 16%
  25. 25. Elected v. Appointed Board Elected Appointed Both
  26. 26. Number of Board Members > 11Number of Board 10-11 Members 8-9 6-7 5 0 10 20 30 40 50 Number of GCDs
  27. 27. Tax-Based v. Fee-Based GCDs Fee Tax Both
  28. 28. Reporting Requirements All non-exempt wells must report use to the GCD No reporting requirement but GCD may read meters Some non-exempt wells must report use to the GCD No reporting requirements*Does not encompass original well drilling logs
  29. 29. Meter Requirements Yes, all non-exempt wells Yes, some non- exempt wells NoIn the absence of a specific metering requirement, GCD-approvedreporting methods may be required
  30. 30. Spacing Requirements TDLR/TCEQ requirements only General spacing/tract size requirements Spacing requirements based on well capacity Combination requirements
  31. 31. Production Limitations• GCDs utilize numerous tools in implementing production limits: – acreage-based limitations (gpm/acre or af/acre/year) – Reasonable use requirements – Consideration of impacts to neighboring wells• Many GCDs protect historic use; some contemplate proportional reductions in cases of drought/overuse
  32. 32. Hydraulic Fracturing• 62% of GCDs have hydraulic fracturing; half experiencing significant activity• Water level impacts as of March 2013: none = 30%, minimal = 49%, and significant = 21%• A third of GCDs (about 15) require permits• Reporting and registration requirements common
  33. 33. Summary• No “one size fits all” approach to groundwater management• Regulatory methods depend on enabling legislation, aquifers, geographic region, and unique characteristics• Visit for GCD information
  34. 34. Questions? Stacey A. SteinbachTexas Alliance of Groundwater Districts