Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District's Board of Directors Approve Amended District Rules

By: Lone Star GCD
| Published 09/09/2020

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CONROE, TX -- On Tuesday evening, during the Rulemaking Hearing, the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors approved Resolution #20-007 amending and adopting District Rules. The rules amendment process has been an eighteen-month long process. The work began in the spring of 2019 when the District held a workshop on Chapter 36 for the newly elected Board of Directors followed by five town hall sessions conducted in different areas of the county where valuable public input was obtained. The Board of Directors then formed two study groups to review information from the town hall sessions, studies undertaken by the previous board, and new information provided by the District consultants. The study groups met regularly over the course of a year to develop proposed amendments to the rules, which were ultimately approved for public comment and review in July 2020.

Since publication of the proposed rule amendments in July 2020, the District has held public workshops, stakeholder meetings and two rulemaking hearings. These workshops, meetings and hearings provided an opportunity for the public to give oral and written comments on the proposed revisions and allowed District staff and consultants to address questions and concerns. While a majority of the District rules remained the same, changes were made that will affect District permit holders.

One of the biggest changes for permit holders is the repeal of all phases of the District's Regulatory Plan ('DRP') as part of compliance with the final judgment in City of Conroe, et. al. v. Tramm, No. 15-08-08942, in the 284th District Court of Montgomery County, Texas. The repeal of the DRP formally abolishes the large volume groundwater user (LVGU) designation, and the reduction, conversion, and groundwater reduction plan (GRP) requirement for LVGUs, which were found by final judgment to be void and unenforceable by a court of law. The District will no longer have large or small volume user designations or require any permit holder to join a GRP. For the permit holders formerly known as LVGUs, this means all permitting, invoicing, and payment beginning with 2021 renewals will be directly with the District and not by or through a GRP Sponsor.

The changes also include the move from annual permits to perpetual permit terms; well spacing rules for new non-exempt wells drilled; a maximum allowable pumping rate for permitted wells; permits issued by aquifer; new non-exempt permit application requirements; a 60-day grace period for exempt wells to register; a temporary drought buffer when certain conditions are reported by the Texas Water Development Board; an update to the groundwater transport fee; removal of the surface impoundment restriction; an increased violation fee for overproduction; and other non-substantial changes.

The amended rules retain the annual production limitations for permits, as well as the authority to create management zones and adopt proportional adjustments that were part of the former rules. The District did, however, make changes to those sections to comply with the final judgment, align with the District's new management goals, and to clarify or enhance the requirements and process.

Please visit www.lonestargcd.org/district-rules-1 to view a summary of the amendments and Frequently Asked Questions on the new rules.

For more information on the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District please visit www.LoneStarGCD.org or follow us on www.Facebook.com/LoneStarWater. For questions, please contact the District at (936) 494-3436.

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