MINUTES

REGION H WATER PLANNING GROUP MEETING

10:00 A.M.

SEPTEMBER 1, 1999

CITY HALL, CONROE, TEXAS

 

 

MEMBERS PRESENT: James Adams, Chairman, Frederick Perrenot, Roosevelt Alexander, John Bartos, Robert Bruner, Judge Robert Eckels, Judge Mark Evans, Mary Alice Gonzalez, Commissioner Jack Harris, David Jenkins, Carolyn Johnson, Judge Tom Manison, Marvin Marcell, James Morrison, James Murray, Tom Ray, Ernest Rebuck, Jack Searcy, Jr., Michael Sullivan, Steve Tyler, C. Harold Wallace, Kerry Whelan.

PRESIDING: James Adams, Chairman

INTRODUCTIONS: Carole Baker for Ronald Neighbors, and Jim Sims for Danny Vance.

CORRECTION AND APPROVAL OF AUGUST 4, 1999 MINUTES:

Delete sentence ...problem with reallocation of half a million people from Harris County contained in consultant update by Taylor. Rephrase sentence under general discussion on page 6, Task II population water demands close expect for the half million people to be moved out of Harris County, replace with Task II population water demands close except for resolution of the half million people that were added between the March 31, 1999, and June 14, 1999 drafts.

Modify suggestion by Steve Tyler that every potential reservoir site be looked at, as a great many members share the view of looking at all sites. The discussion had more to do with finding new ways to fund these reservoirs.

Comment by David Jenkins, second page, midway second paragraph, should read this planning group does have the authority to do the studies, simply no money to do it.

Motioned to approve as modified by Judge Eckels. Seconded by John Bartos. Motion carried.

INVITATION BY REGION I FOR A JOINT MEETING:

Date for the next meeting is scheduled September 29, 1999.

REVIEW AND APPROVE REVISED POPULATION AND DEMAND FIGURES:

Mark Lowry pointed out that the original Water Development Board population numbers were revised based on the Texas State Data Center, which in comparison to the Subsidence District population figures were higher. The methodology stated that it was done with the higher figures. During a meeting with Butch Bloodworth, it was agreed to reduce the agricultural demands in two of the counties where the Water Development Board demand numbers were significantly higher by approximately 20,000 acre-feet. Butch Bloodworth wants to use all of the Subsidence District population numbers for Harris County rather than the adjusted revised population. The revised adjusted numbers for Harris County is higher than the Subsidence Districtís based on the TSDC projections, which are based on the 1996 values escalated to the year 2000, and are within the guidelines.

Subsidence District population numbers were used for Montgomery, Fort Bend, Liberty, and Brazoria. Our submittal says those were the only four counties used. The issues in Fort Bend have been resolved. The Harris County figures are as this group approved them. Chairman Adams questioned if the group is accepting the Subsidence District numbers in those four counties and this is the Harris/Galveston Subsidence District, perhaps those figures for Harris and Galveston should be accepted. There was a previous motion to accept the Subsidence District numbers, but the desire is to have accurate numbers for long-term planning. Mr. Lowry indicated the changes were statistical interpretations that brought these up to a more accurate form, which does not reflect changing to the Subsidence District numbers.

Population and demand figures are on the agenda for the Water Development Board, so the desire is to present agreement of numbers.

Jeff Taylor mentioned that in the year 2050 the difference between the Subsidence District numbers and the adjusted data is about 60,000. The suggestion is to use the adjusted data and not the Subsidence Districtsí numbers.

The previous motion by Mr. Jack Searcy to be revised.

Commissioner Harris mentioned that for Brazoria County there is about a 10 percent difference at 2050, 65,000 proposed, 58,000 revised, about 7,000 people. Mark Lowry pointed out that the mathematical error had been corrected and that the population is slightly lower than the original table. The effect on water demand is very slight. Commissioner Harris questioned the tables, which indicate the population is going to be less than double in 50 years.

Judge Eckels noted that the revised numbers for Harris County, are Census Bureau population estimates for water demand. Mark Lowry added there is a reduction built into the Water Development Board numbers.

 

Judge Eckels motioned to accept the revised report on water demand forecast population figures, based on the understanding that the consultants have corrected mathematical calculations to show the water demand use. Although the population numbers are technically good numbers for purposes of 50-years out, but should be revised every five (5) years. Seconded by Commissioner Harris. Motion carried.

CONSULTANT UPDATE:

The draft for the Task I Chapter memo has been transmitted to the Water Development Board. Currently, we are one month behind schedule. Two points of discussion will be, the demand supply comparison and water management strategy development. We are planning the next series of public meetings. The hope is by the February/March 2000 time frame the final population water demand and supply numbers will be completed and the draft assessment of where the problem areas exist will be available to the public for feedback.

Next month the presentation will be on Tables I and II, which focus on population and water demand and will provide water supply numbers by major water providers by counties. Today is an overview of the ground and surface water supply numbers. Next month the detail needed by the Water Development Board for their tables will be available.

The original Scope of Work allows for the allocation of surface and groundwater by county with up to six subregions. Because most of the water supply is east, the look will be at various water sources and comparing those raw water costs associated with raw water supply facilities from surface pumps at surface water treatment facilities. The distribution of water and the ultimate cost is not part of this groupís responsibility, but it comes into play; and there is a need to look at the cost of bringing water up to each county. As far as how the water is moved inside the county will be left up to the major water providers.

The handout is the first cut at existing surface water reservoir supplies for Region H, which contains values, based on firm yield and/or permitted rights by entity. The Brazos River Authority system yield value discusses how water is provided in the Brazos to downstream customers from any reservoir in the Brazos basin. The 211,000 number is based on a Water Development Board study of how water is physically in the river during the drought of record. A higher number has been permitted to senior rights holders backed up by off-channel storage, and the discrepancy will probably not be resolved; but in five years that number will be better.

The Gulf Coast Water Authority rights come from the Run-of-the-River with over 30,000-acre feet of storage.

Surface water is permitted on a date basis and will be the driver for the discrepancies. The water demand number approved is 3.1 million-acre feet in 2050. Existing water is almost 2.3., and environmental flows are not currently included in the water demand numbers.

The current groundwater tables are on a county basis by aquifer and river basins. The numbers were developed mostly through the Texas Water Development Board based on previous studies, some from the U.S. Geological Survey, for Leon County on some modeling during 1990-1991. For 2000 itís 101,560,000 acre-feet; for 2050 itís 828,528. The reduction is pumpage in Harris County. Austin County is 29,000-acre feet per year substantiated in combination with the USGS and the Water Development Board. The same is true for Brazoria and Chambers Counties. Fort Bend is higher, showing the Gulf Coast aquifer about 52,000 acre-feet and 23,000 for the Brazos River Alluvium.

Fort Bend is pumping between 69,000 and 85,000 per year, which exceeds the availability from the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers. The Texas Water Development Board is considering 91,000-acre feet per year availability number for Fort Bend County with Fort Bend developing a subsidence plan. The USGS has estimated 165,000-acre feet per year availability. The numbers are without a regulatory plan from the Fort Bend Subsidence District. If further conversion in Harris and Galveston Counties does not occur and Fort Bend pumpage is not reduced, water level declines will occur in the northeastern part of Fort Bend County, North Harris County, and possibly in Montgomery County. If that occurs, all future growth is dependent upon groundwater; so it is not necessarily a reduction. But if future growth comes from groundwater, those things will occur. There are anticipated significant reductions in groundwater withdrawals in Fort Bend County for the years 2000 to 2030.

The Galveston County number is tied to the Harris County number, the same with Leon, Liberty, and Madison Counties. The Carrizo aquifer for Leon, Madison Counties, and the Gulf Coast system. Montgomery County, is a 40,000 acre feet per year with availability of about 72,000. Itís more than the present pumpage, but substantially less than previous studies by the USGS. Polk, San Jacinto, Trinity, Walker and Waller are significant numbers with groundwater availability from various aquifers. Chambers with 10,800-acre feet of pumpage, an estimated availability of 28,000. Waller and Chambers mainly agricultural driven, Trinity, Walker, San Jacinto, and Polk are more urban driven.

The alluvium system is usually no more than 100 feet deep, the Carrizo and Wilcox 400-600. In the lower areas there is not an ability to pump what is needed for agriculture. The closer to the coast in the rural areas, the quality of water declines. What this tells us is how much water can be brought to the surface estimated within that county either utilizing the wells there now or utilizing those wells plus drilling additional wells; but it is a sustainable supply. Harris and Galveston Counties are compatible with the subsidence goals, which is a sustainable number. These numbers are meant for prudent development of the resource, not determining quality and quantity limitations.

UNIQUE RESERVOIR SITES:

A request was made to table the discussion of unique reservoir sites until demand and supply comparison has been completed. Uncertain how to define unique reservoir and stream segment components in regional planning efforts, will be clearly defined when information is received from the Texas Parks Department and the impact of Texas Bed and Banks permits studied. If you say something is a unique stream segment, no state agency or political subdivision, being river authority, county, municipality, can acquire fee, title or easement that would preclude using it for a reservoir or its preservation as a unique stream segment. The regional planning group would make that recommendation. If accepted, it goes into the State Water Plan, then to the legislature for designation as a unique stream reservoir.

PRESENTATION BY DAVID JENKINS:

Rice farming is a business whose primary goal is to produce a quality product for a profit. High production costs, competition, and concerns for the environment gives rice producers new challenges.

Rice production is an art and science that contributes to economic production, enhancement of the environment and wildlife, and provides a sustainable and safe food supply.

The agricultural community has developed a series of techniques called best management practices. This involves conducting research on water quality going into the field and again as it leaves to see exactly what affects these management practices have on the environment. The chemical management package, through soil testing, has drastically reduced the number of chemicals being applied, hence reducing potential chemical pollution. Precision leveling reduces the number of levies, which improves irrigation, promoting the use of less water, retaining soil in the field, managing disease, all of which produce higher yields.

The LCRA and rice producers have implemented a system to measure the amount of water actually flowing in the field so the farmer gets charged only for the water used. This is an incentive to conserve water, which is the key for having a future supply of water.

Best management practices can help keep production cost low, yield high, and minimize the impact on the environment while bringing a safe, nutritious product to the table.

GENERAL DISCUSSION:

Carole Baker announced the September 17th American Waterworks Association, Water Environment Association of Texas, and Salt organizations daylong conference on alternative water strategies.

Videos are presented to the board members related to Forests of the River Bottoms.

PUBLIC COMMENTS:

Linda Shead questioned numbers presented as sustainable when they cause or report to cause water levels, which will increase pumpage costs, increase subsidence, flood damage costs, public infrastructure costs, and habitat loss. Also, environmental flows have impacts downstream of fisheries and tourism.

September 23rd is the annual luncheon.

MEETING ADJOURNED TO:

October 6, 1999

10:00 a.m.

City Hall

Conroe, Texas