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The Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors approved the construction of an additional well for Sunset Water Utilities in Spicewood, which serves the communities of Spicewood Trails and Spicewood Estates. The approval came on April 27 after a public hearing with the stipulation that a monitoring well of equal depth be installed or outfitted nearby.

The permit amendment will allow the utility to drill a well with a pump rate of 50 gallons per minute to provide water to the two Spicewood communities, but it will not increase the overall amount of water the utility is permitted to use. 

Sunset Water Utilities has the rights to 348.74 acre-feet of groundwater but is only permitted to use 152.5 acre-feet.

According to Groundwater Conservation District General Manager Mitchell Sodek, Spicewood Trails and Spicewood Estates are still growing and the wells will likely end up providing water to about 800 residents once full buildout is complete. He estimates that about 275 residents are currently served.

The CTGCD board unanimously approved the permit amendment at the recommendation of Sodek and the district’s groundwater consultant, Neil Deeds of Intera, an environmental and water resource consulting firm. Their recommendations were made with the clause that a monitoring well of similar depth be drilled or another nearby well be outfitted for monitoring.

Deeds explained that the study conducted by Sunset Water Utilities showed a significant drawdown could occur in nearby wells, but he said this was deceiving due to the compartmentalized nature of the Ellenburger-San Saba Aquifer.

“Normal modeling predicted that there might be as much as 250 feet of drawdown at the nearest off-site well,” he said. “I’m still recommending that the permit be issued because I don’t believe that much drawdown is going to occur. The impacts from that pumping well are not likely to get off the property and have as large an impact as what the modeling is predicting.”

The utility company will have one year to work with the district on installing monitoring equipment on an existing well or drilling a new monitoring well to measure the impact of the new well.

According to Sodek, the district has the right to reopen a permit and make adjustments if a well is found to be causing a significant drawdown on neighboring wells.

“We’re trying to make sure that everyone has access to water long term and to work in a cooperative way,” said CTGCD Director Kathy Griffis-Bailey. “Being able to monitor the use of the water is to everybody’s advantage.”