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Groundwater conservation district OKs study for future development

Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors on May 20, 2022

The Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors voted to commission a study of Burnet County’s groundwater quality and availability. General Manager Mitchell Sodek (left) on May 20 reviewed the agenda alongside board members Homer Will and Ricky Bindseil, board President Ryan Rowney, attorney Bill Dugat, board members Kathy Griffis and Paul King, and district technician Shrader Davis. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Current drought conditions and developmental pressures might be impacting the water supply in Burnet County, directors of the Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District learned during the board’s regular meeting Friday, May 20. After a presentation by General Manager Mitchell Sodek, directors voted to commission a study to determine the state of the county’s groundwater. 

The district meets monthly in its offices at 225 S. Pierce on the courthouse square in Burnet. 

“We’re doing a conceptual model of the major and minor aquifers of Burnet County, and that will help us to compile the data we have collected over the past 15 years into a working understanding of the aquifers,” Sodek said at the meeting. “How much water is available, what the structure of those aquifers are, how deep they are, how thick they are, where do they go, how fast does the water moves, how do individual wells affect other wells will really help us understand the hydrogeology of Burnet County.”

Rapid development of subdivisions in Burnet County fueled the need for the study of groundwater availability. The conservation district reported that roughly 50 well applications have come in per month since December 2021 and new well drilling often sees wait times of over six months. 

“The development in the past two years has exploded,” Sodek said. “We have had exponential growth in rural subdivisions, or ranchettes, anywhere from 2- to 10-acre tracts — they can be hundreds of tracts in some cases. They are almost primarily served by private individual wells.”

The high density of wells in a small area can impact localized groundwater, Sodek continued. “Water availability is a big factor on the county level, which is why the county is involved in this project.” 

Subdivision developers dependent on groundwater must determine if water availability is sufficient and of good quality before moving forward. 

“This data will be used to support those decisions for water planning,” Sodek said. 

The study will focus on the Trinity Aquifer and the Llano Uplift Aquifer System, both of which feed Burnet County. Eastern Burnet County draws from the Trinity, while western Burnet County draws from the LUAS. 

The conservation district is hiring Intera Geoscience & Engineering Solutions to conduct a regional assessment of groundwater resources in Burnet County using existing data collected from hundreds of wells over the past 10 years. The associated costs for the project is $99,580. Funding, recently approved by the Burnet County Commissioners Court, will come from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). 

“We’re trying to get ahead of it by making sure that there is water there for 30-plus years of development,” Sodek said.

Directors also continued the county’s current Drought Stage 3, which they established at the April meeting. The rating is based off of the Palmer Hydraulic Index, which measures long-term trends in groundwater, not just weather and rainfall. 

dakota@thepicayune.com

1 thought on “Groundwater conservation district OKs study for future development

  1. There should be some type of enforcement of subdivision restrictions. I live in an area that is supposed to be only residential. However, several businesses have developed in the area include several RV parks that are using wells. Also, in the subdivision restrictions it states only one house per acre, and no one will enforce this restriction. Maybe someone should look into this and start taking care of our ground water.

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