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City of Bertram, quarry granted increases in groundwater use

Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors on Jan. 25, 2023

The Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors approved increasing groundwater use permits for the city of Bertram and Capitol Aggregates Inc. at a meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 25. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The city of Bertram and Capitol Aggregates Inc. were granted large increases to their groundwater use permits during a Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors meeting and public hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 25. 

Bertram’s annual allowable groundwater use increased by 116 percent, from 366.5 acre-feet to 792.58 acre-feet. The increase was approved because the city acquired an additional 426 acres of groundwater rights from a landowner who borders its current well site.

Bertram is totally dependent on groundwater produced from two wells on a ranch on County Road 340 just outside of Burnet. The request for an increase was made as the city approached its permitted maximum use in 2022. Both wells pull water from the Ellenburger-San Saba Aquifer.

Capitol Aggregates annual allowable groundwater use was increased by 69 percent, from 344 acre-feet to 582 acre-feet. The company runs a large quarry in Burnet County and is totally reliant on groundwater from the Ellenburger-San Saba Aquifer and rain runoff from the surrounding property.

The district board unanimously approved the Bertram increase but voted 4-1 on Capitol Aggregates’ request. Precinct 3 Director Homer Will said he could not approve an increase for the quarry when the status of the current drought had not changed.

“I’m here to protect Burnet County,” he said. “The conditions have not changed at this point. The water level has not changed. I can’t vote for Capitol Aggregates to have this increase.”

Both increases came with a stipulation: The Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District will monitor the affected wells and collect flow-rate data to keep an eye on overall usage. 

“We want folks to have the water that they need. We just don’t want to see anyone waste it,” board President Ryan Rowney told DailyTrib.com after the meeting. “These folks did their due diligence and had done everything legally required of the district. We didn’t have any legal grounds to deny them.”

The district passed a mandatory 15 percent reduction on allowable groundwater use for all permitted users in Burnet County in December 2022 to help combat the drought plaguing Central Texas. The 15 percent reduction also will apply to the newly approved increases. Small residential wells with pump rates less than 17.36 gallons per minute are not affected.

dakota@thepicayune.com

2 thoughts on “City of Bertram, quarry granted increases in groundwater use

  1. “These folks did their due diligence and had done everything legally required of the district. We didn’t have any legal grounds to deny them.”

    How does this statement not apply to homeowners? Or to any water plant that has followed rules and laws?

  2. How can this be happening? A quarry gets a increase of 69% more water – during a DROUGHT! – while homeowners have to cut back 15%? Someone please make this make sense!

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