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A public hearing on Burnet County groundwater permit adjustments and spacing variances is at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, at the Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District office, 225 S. Pierce St., Suite 104, in Burnet. The proposed adjustments come on the heels of the first-ever mandatory groundwater restrictions, which the district set on Dec. 20, 2022.

The public will have the opportunity to express their ideas and concerns about the adjustments during the hearing and prior to a vote by the district’s Board of Directors.

The permit adjustments and spacing variance under consideration are based on the following three requests:

  • The city of Bertram is requesting a 426.08 acre-feet per-year increase to its current permitted use of 366.5 acre-feet for a total of 792.58 acre-feet per-year. Bertram is totally dependent on groundwater and pulls all of its city water from the Ellenburger-San Saba aquifer.
  • Capitol Aggregates is requesting a 238 acre-feet per-year increase to its current 344 acre-feet for a total of 582 acre-feet per year. The company pulls its water from two wells on the Ellenburger-San Saba aquifer.
  • Texas Winery Owners Group is requesting a spacing variance, which would place a new well within 300 feet of a property line. The group pulls its water from an alluvium aquifer, a shallow and confined body of groundwater. 

“The key for us is for folks to have the water that they need but not be wasting it,” board President Ryan Rowney told DailyTrib.com. “We don’t know when this drought is going to end. We’re just going to have to be careful going forward and hope that we get some rain in the spring.”

The district passed a mandatory 15 percent reduction to the allowable annual pumping capacity of all permitted wells in Burnet County on Dec. 20. This only applies to permitted wells, meaning wells that have a pumping capacity of over 17.36 gallons-per-minute. Smaller wells are exempt from the mandatory restrictions.

The imposed restrictions also will affect amended permits.

Restrictions were put in place due to historic lows for monitoring wells across the county and bleak outlooks for precipitation in the coming year. They will remain in effect until the end of 2023 or the board lifts them.

dakota@thepicayune.com