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Burnet County pushes back vs. water district consolidation bill

State Rep. Jason Isaac filed House Bill 3677, which would consolidate county groundwater districts into larger regional districts.

State Rep. Jason Isaac filed House Bill 3677, which would consolidate county groundwater districts into larger regional districts.

STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY

BURNET — Burnet County leaders rejected an effort by State Rep. Jason Isaac to abolish county-based water conservation districts in favor of regional boards to monitor groundwater and determine funding mechanisms.

Isaac, who represents Blanco and Hays counties in District 45, filed House Bill 3677, which would initially dissolve several county groundwater conservation districts, including one in Burnet County, and create a larger regional district comprised of five counties.

Groundwater conservation districts were created to regulate and monitor well- and aquifer-based water resources beneath specific jurisdictions. Districts have locally elected boards that determine how to either tax and/or apply fees so the entity can function.

In Isaac’s bill, Blanco, Burnet, Comal, Hays, and Kendall counties would be consolidated into one district with at least one board member representing each county.

Doing so would help rid the state of its “patchwork system” of groundwater conservation districts, Isaac said.

“Shouldn’t we do things more science-based and aquifer-based divisions?” Isaac said. “Shouldn’t we have regionalized aquifer districts?”

He added he would like to see consistency in dealing with groundwater issues.

“In the district where I serve, we have four groundwater conservation districts monitoring all the same water, and they all have different rules,” he said. “Shouldn’t we be protecting our water as a whole like our river authorities?

“They don’t split things up and say, ‘You take the north bank, and we’ll take the south bank.’ It’s just one river authority,” he added.

Among a number of state leaders, Burnet County officials expressed opposition to the proposal.

On March 28, Burnet County commissioners passed a resolution rejecting the dissolution of the Burnet County Groundwater Conservation District for a larger regional body.

“I and other counties were not even contacted about what they were trying to do. I question the legality of dissolving a local taxing district that was locally approved,” Burnet County Judge James Oakley said. “It would be potentially a loss of control of water that’s underneath Burnet County.

“The purpose of the water district is to better manage our natural resources and have a better understanding of what it is,” Oakley added. “It’s the thought of losing control to others. I see it as a play on a water grab. It would ultimately benefit the San Antonio area.”

Isaac said he has worked to better educate himself about the geology of the groundwater resources and would like to encourage others to do the same.

“I say that because we have 101 groundwater conservation districts in the state,” Isaac said. “The bill that I filed, knowing that it wouldn’t pass, was intended to start a conversation.”

A potential house committee hearing on HB 3677 is pending in May.

connie@thepicayune.com

1 thought on “Burnet County pushes back vs. water district consolidation bill

  1. If this where to pass and they consolidated them into small districts how would it affect taxes? It’s bad enough we have to pay a tax for the one we have now.

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