REGION H WATER PLANNING GROUP MEETING
AUGUST 4, 1999
CITY HALL, CONROE, TEXAS
MEMBERS PRESENT: James Adams, Chairman, 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 Murray, Ronald Neighbors, Tom Ray, Ernest Rebuck, Jack Searcy, Jr., William Teer, Steve Tyler, Danny Vance, Kerry Whelan,
PRESIDING: James Adams, Chairman
INTRODUCTIONS: Kim Sullivan for Michael Sullivan, Ronald W. Hudson for Frederick Perrenot.
APPROVE MINUTES OF JULY 7, 1999 MEETING:
Motioned to accept by Danny Vance. Seconded by Carolyn Johnson. Motion carried.
CONSULTANT UPDATE BY JEFF TAYLOR:
Compilation of existing water supplies will be completed by next month, pending resolution of population and demand numbers. Jeff Taylor briefly updated the group on the status of the consultant work effort. He stated that essentially half of the major work effort was complete.
UNIQUE RESERVOIR SITES:
A list of unique reservoirs was submitted. The majority has had a cursory analysis focusing on the amount of conservation storage and preliminary costs. No new reservoirs were added. Cost considerations were based on total capital cost and per unit cost. Per unit cost makes Allens Creek attractive relative to water management strategies. Higher per unit cost means higher user rate. Allens Creek has a 70,000-acre feet yield. Lake Houston has a 150,000-acre feet yield. Lake Conroe has a 100,000-acre feet yield. Listings of 10,000 acre foot yield not viewed as regional but local.
Chairman Adams commended Steve Tyler for the suggestion 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.
Commissioner Harris: Millican would cost about three times what Allens Creek would cost, but the yield is about three times; costs $ .28 versus $1.20. Tom Ray: Thatís the cost if everybodyís using that volume of water from the start. Projects like Millican, 250,000-acre feet yield, with large reserve capacity carried to the long-term future is more costly. $486 million is woefully low. Jeff Taylor: That includes mitigation. Existing information lacking in detail. Commissioner Harris: If project is big enough, it would take 30 years to build; do we need 252,000 acre feet per year more in Region H by 2030? Probably. So, the customer will be there when the water gets there. Tom Ray: We should look at large projects and examine how you get water needed in the future. Thatís been done. Demands are in a range large enough to justify that type reservoir, but by what means, what size, reservoirs by themselves or with conjunctive use; how do you develop the water supply? Millican needs to be studied. Commissioner Harris: These numbers need to be brought into parity. These numbers donít add up. Tom Ray: Canít use this economic analysis to make that decision. Must look at all the environmental constraints and other constraints that deal with development of a project this size.
Chairman Adams: Additional information is available from the different regional authorities. Reservoirs are built with long-term contracts for water supply, which underwrite revenue bonds used for construction. You canít sell the water now to build these reservoirs. Must find an alternate way to fund. People purchasing that water canít pay the extra cost to carry the reserve supply. Ron Neighbors: If weíre going to look to the east for water, we need to have the answers. David Jenkins: This planning group does have the authority to do the studies, simply no money to do it with. Robert Bruner: How much water do we need? Do you get it from one big reservoir, from the east, from two or three little ones? Jack Searcy: Weíre looking at this from a water standpoint, but these big lakes impact the value of land, the tourism business. Steve Tyler: Makes sense to develop an area where land may cost more but potential appreciation is more. Currently land surrounding reservoirs is condemned or purchased to be inundated. Why not purchase the developable land around the inundation and sell it?
Marvin Marcell: In looking at our responsibilities in a 50-year projection in plans, we need to identify whether we can afford to fulfill a complete planning responsibility. When we factor in the full detail of costs for small reservoirs that require distribution systems, the cost of going east with uncertain costs and uncertain factors, Millican and others become efficient economically for a 30-50 year approach. Jeff Taylor: Youíre not tasked yet to pick the projects youíre going to recommend for ultimate use for surface water supply. The state wants to flag unique reservoir sites you might develop in the future. You can separate unique site designation from real water supply. Danny Vance: Isnít the idea of unique reservoir site designation an implication that site is to be preserved for future development?
Ernest Rebuck: My impression is we would flag it for state projects to avoid future highways or state facilities.
Tom Ray: Millican is in Region G and was authorized in 1954. Corps of Engineers has volumes of information as does the Brazos River Authority. Danny Vance: Tehuacana and Tennessee Colony affect Region Cís yield. Tehuacana is permitted to be constructed by the Tarrant Regional Water District. Tennessee Colony is sponsored by TRA. 30-40 years from now that is a potential site recognized by the Trinity River Authorityís master plan.
Ernest Rebuck noted that some coordination needs to exist when reservoirs are outside Region H. Jeff Taylor: One of the criteria is inside Region H. Tehuacana is Region C. The current Texas Water Plan draws a distinction between recommended and alternative site projects. The three on the recommended list are deemed the most viable. You can chose all sites for unique reservoirs or some subset and send us back to do more work. When this was budgeted, the only assumption was compilation of existing information. Chairman Adams added that an amendment changed the criteria to "provide good service to Region H."
David Jenkins asked about yield on Tennessee Colony. Danny Vance: The first to step forward with the money to permit and construct would get the yield. Jeff Taylor: If constructed, it would definitely impact the current yield of Lake Livingston significantly. Steve Tyler: We need to consider whether any of these reservoir sites are going to limit our potential capacity. If building Tennessee Colony depletes Lake Livingston, we would want to consider whether that site is viable for the region. Chairman Adams: When you permit a reservoir, the impoundment of the water is from flood waters of the state.
Chairman Adams tabled the discussion and requests Brown & Root produce a revised map of reservoirs. Kerry Whelan suggests showing the criteria, because yield is one.
POPULATION AND DEMAND NUMBERS
Danny Vance asked regarding units for gallons per capita per day consumption used in Region H numbers. Region C population projections are completed, but there is a disagreement over gallons per capita per day consumption, which drives the water demand.
PRESENTATION OF GROUNDWATER REGULATORY PLAN BY RONALD NEIGHBORS OF THE HOUSTON/GALVESTON COASTAL SUBSIDENCE DISTRICT:
Issues in the regulatory plan included water level declines in the aquifers (Chicot and Evangeline), subsidence, water quality and the adverse effects of water quality within the aquifers of the projected pumpages and drawdowns.
The declines will happen if we meet the water demands of the future by pumping groundwater. If we do not expand the use of surface water and we meet the potential growth within the region, the drawdowns in the Chicot become very significant in the southern part of the district, particularly Galveston County and along the bay. In the Evangeline, the declines would be substantial. Southwest and Northwest Harris County, 5 feet; Texas City, 1 foot; Baytown, 2 feet.
1995 GPS gave us new elevation data, which also gave the amount of subsidence. We recalibrated and updated to a new groundwater model, added sites, and redid the population projections.
We are in Region H, but serve two counties, and have no authority beyond those two counties.
Our Regulatory Plan contains information from North Harris County MUDs, state representatives, public hearings, the City of Houston, Chambers of Commerce in North Harris and Southern Montgomery Counties. We wanted to build a plan that was effective and flexible to regulate our future water use with a real disincentive to the continued overreliance on groundwater.
Originally, we consolidated the area into seven parts. Area I is 97 percent on surface water; Area II, 80 percent.
The disincentive fee is a substantial fee and in addition to the normal fees charged to the districts. The Supreme Court pointed out that groundwater fees were a disincentive to pumping groundwater, and itís on that, that we stand heavily to build this disincentive fee as the purpose to achieve regulation. The fee will apply to 80 percent of the total water use in Areas II and III, 90 percent in Area I. Area I and II are already meeting the regulations. There are exemptions for small users that use less than 10 million gallons a year and agricultural irrigators. The way to avoid paying the disincentive fee is to develop a groundwater reduction plan.
There are a number of water suppliers in the area: City of Houston, Gulf Coast Water Authority, others that are small, and others that are potential, some not yet known. We would move money from fees to them under contract to improve and extend surface water delivery systems.
Area II contains hundreds of MUDs and WCIDs with no capacity to finance or build or develop surface water for their use, so the GRP is a work-together kind of thing to combine efforts and form groups to submit plans to achieve groundwater reduction. GRP contains information such as water demand projections, infrastructure needs, construction and conversion schedules, financing mechanisms to be used, and reliable surface water contracts in place. These contracts must be made with providers such as the City of Houston and the Gulf Coast Water Authority, or with someone that weíre not aware of, something new thatís built. The GRP must be submitted six months prior to the certification deadline. In Area III the deadline is January 1, 2003, at which time the disincentive fee goes into effect.
Judge Eckels asked if a group of ten get together and submit one GRP in an overlying area and another entity submits a different GRP, will the subsidence district sort through those and develop a certified plan? Ron Neighbors said the GRP stands on its own two feet. If the ten submit one on their own behalf, nobody else can submit one for them. They have to be signed into individually.
The 1999 Area I plan meets the regulation. Area II, the old growth on groundwater provision has been removed. All entities will be looked at on an 80/20 total pumpage basis at the time, because pumpage right now is not the problem; itís the projected future thatís the problem. The disincentive fee will apply to Areas I and II commencing 2001. Area IIIís goal is reduction of pumpage by 30 percent by 2010, 70 percent by 2020, and 80 percent by 2030 with the infrastructure construction to start no later than January 2005.
Scenario to do nothing: Beginning January 2003 they pay the disincentive fee. They no longer are under the 30, 70, and 80 percent, but rather to have to convert to surface water as soon as itís available.
If an entity joins a GRP: They avoid paying disincentive fee. They begin to pay the GRP. The conversion schedule is determined by the GRP, but the GRP can determine to leave certain areas in their group 100 percent on groundwater forever while others must convert so that the goal of the group meets the 30, 70, and 80 percent. You may be a part; you may be converting or not on a timely basis, but you are paying your part of the solution to the problem by participating through this plan and overall program.
Recognize that the conditions for groundwater do get worse before they get better in 35 years. Keeping water in the aquifers available to those that do pump is an important resource to our plan and meeting our water demands.
Subsidence in Jersey Village area, 5 feet. The petrochemical industry, NASA, the Ship Channel cannot afford additional subsidence and stay in business. Fort Bend categories are subject to change as itís influenced by the regulations within Fort Bend Subsidence District. We are on target to make that plan available to the board during 1999.
Motioned by Jack Searcy to accept the subsidence district regulatory plan for inclusion in Region H planning process; to incorporate the groundwater pumpage numbers for Harris and Galveston County into Region H groundwater availability data.
Motion seconded by David Jenkins. Motion carried.
Chairman Adams proposed no additional fund raising is needed at this time. Contingency fund usage items, such as public input, are proposed not to be funded by the TWDB. Submitted to the board was $65,000, for additional studies that may be required by the consultants, 25 percent to be available early on, the rest will be kept in reserve.
Ernest Rebuck of the Texas Water Development Board asked for an August 12th deadline for feedback on criteria for the contingency money. TWDBís priority is to eliminate any money for administration work and public participation. Chairman Adams specified tasks necessary for planning of the group to adopt their plan, including studies to evaluate current water supply, evaluate water management strategies, accomplish required work, conflicts not resolved, opportunities not reasonably foreseen. Unique reservoir site fits into that category. David Jenkins: Look at some other areas such as reservoir sites to see if there is synergistic effects on the location for certain issues that probably are predominant, such as instream flows issues, bays and estuaries, and reuse.
Chairman Adams requested Jeff Taylor to come up with any other items by the 12th.
Region I chairman suggested a joint meeting. Details will follow.
Ernest Rebuck said William Teer, with the Southeast Water Supply Corporation, received a $3.1 million grant from Water 2000. William Teer commented that a 75 percent grant is unheard of and that this allows them a great opportunity to double the customer base and make major systems improvements in Leon County.
Ernest Rebuck: There are seven tasks, the seventh being approving and submitting the plan. Task I, description of the region needs to be submitted. The draft is more than 90 percent complete. 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. Task III, looking at the different resources and quantifying and pulling the available water sources in Region H together. We donít have the final guidance from the Water Development Board on tables IV and V.
September 1, 1999