GROUNDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
Table of Contents
District Mission and Goals -3-
Statement of Guiding Principles -3-
General Description of the District -3-
Location of the District -4-
Topography and Drainage -4-
Groundwater Resources -4-
Surface Water Resources -5-
Drought Contingency Plan -5-
Projected Water Supplies -5-
Groundwater Usage and Demand -6-
Management of Groundwater Supplies -7-
Actions, Procedures, Performance -8-
Annual Report -9-
Goals, Management Objectives, and Performance Standards -9-
Senate Bill 1 Management Goals Determined To Be Inapplicable -14-
DISTRICT MISSION AND GOAL
The mission of the Refugio Groundwater Conservation District is to manage, protect, and conserve the groundwater resources of Refugio County, Texas, while protecting private property rights and promoting constructive and sustainable development in Refugio County.
The goal of the Refugio Groundwater Conservation District in pursuing its mission is the sustainability of the groundwater resources of Refugio County.
STATEMENT OF GUIDING PRINCIPLES
The groundwater resources of Refugio County ("the County") are of vital importance to all citizens, and as the economic activities of the County continue to increase, additional pressure will be placed on the groundwater resources of the County. The Refugio Groundwater Conservation District ("the District"), managed and controlled locally, is the most practical means of directing development and preventing over-development of the natural resources of the County.
The District can achieve its mission and goals by increasing the quantity and quality of knowledge regarding the groundwater resources of the County, encouraging the most efficient use of groundwater, preserving and improving groundwater quality, and increasing public awareness and education of groundwater issues. Believing that local control of local resources is critical to the District’s mission and goal, the District will monitor the activities of the Texas Legislature and of Texas Water Planning Groups, along with the rules and orders of state agencies which may affect the private ownership, use, and management of groundwater.
The District will work in cooperation with the Bee Groundwater Water Conservation District, the Goliad County Groundwater Conservation District, and other Groundwater Districts in Groundwater Management Area 16 to manage and protect those groundwater resources that are shared by any or all of these districts.
A major threat to the mission of the District is management of the groundwater resources of Refugio County without a thorough understanding of the aquifers and their hydro geologic properties. This Management Plan will be a tool for the directors of the District and for the managers of the District’s water resources, the landowners of Refugio County. The District’s directors regard all landowners as the District’s partners in managing our groundwater resources.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF THE DISTRICT
The District was created by S.B. 1911, 76th Legislature and continued by H.B. 2046, 77th Legislature. The District was ratified by the citizens of Refugio County through a confirmation election on November 6, 2001. The current Board of Directors ("the Board") are Larry Aduddell (President), Beverly Fletcher (Vice-President), Gary Wright, Scott Carter and Bob Blaschke (Secretary). At the time of the adoption of this Management Plan, the District did not have a General Manager. The boundaries of the District are coterminous with those of Refugio County, Texas. The economy of the County and the District is dominated by petroleum, agriculture, tourism, and light industrial activities. Agricultural income is derived primarily from beef cattle production, hunting, and outdoor recreation.
LOCATION OF THE DISTRICT
The district is located on the coastal plain of Texas and includes the entire area of Refugio County. Refugio County has a land area of 770 square miles (Census, 2002) and is located in the northeast portion of the coastal bend region. It is surrounded by Victoria county in the North, Calhoun county along northeast, Goliad county in the west, Bee county in the southwest, San Patricio county in the South and Aransas county and gulf of Mexico along the east. It falls in the tropical/Subtropical Steppe ecosystem division (Norwine, 1995). According to Trewertha (1968), the climate in this region is semi-arid and is characterized by hot and humid summers and mild winters.
In recent times, eco-tourism, recreational fishing and hunting are seen as major drivers of economy (RCDC, 2002). In addition to the saltwater fishing in the bays, fresh water fishing is also available at the Mission River in Refugio County, as well as at nearby lakes. Refugio County, is part of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, and offers views of over 400 species of birds, including the rare Whooping Crane, which makes its winter home in the Aransas Wildlife Refuge, located near Austwell, Refugio County and adjoining Aransas County. It is estimated that 15,590,000 tourists visit annually within 50 miles radius of Refugio County and an average of 30 tour buses daily travel through the town of Refugio (RCDC, 2002). This recent trend towards tourism-oriented economy and the associated water demands must be accounted for in long-term water planning endeavors.
TOPOGRAPHY AND DRAINAGE
Refugio County is located on the coastal plain. The highest elevation in the county is about 86 feet above mean sea level along the north-northwestern corner. The eastern portion of the county, especially near the gulf coast is a low lying areas with elevations very near (within 10 feet) to the mean sea level.
The entire Refugio County consists of one major aquifer system, namely the gulf coast aquifer that extends from Florida to Texas (Baker, 1979). However, the water yields and water quality vary significantly with depth within the county. In addition, the Goliad sands (Pliocene) formation begins at a depth greater than 600 feet below the surface in all of Refugio County and is a reliable source of groundwater within the aquifer (Mason, 1963). Hence, the gulf coast aquifer within the Refugio county can be considered to comprise of two principal aquifer subsystems – namely, the "Beaumont/Lissie sand" subsystem that extends to about 500 – 700 feet bgs, and the "Lissie/Goliad sand" subsystem that begins at roughly 600 feet below the ground surface and extends to about 300 to 600 beyond.
SURFACE WATER RESOURCES
The major surface water features of the county and its vicinity include the San Antonio and Guadalupe rivers along the north, Mission river and Copano creek along the central part of the county and the Aransas River along the southern boundary of the county. Refugio County also contains shorelines on Copano, Mission, Hynes and San Antonio bays.
According to information from the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, there is a supply of surface water available to meet future water demands within the District. That supply could be provided by a combination of existing and proposed run-of-river water rights, firmed up by stored water from Canyon Reservoir during periods of extreme drought.
DROUGHT CONTINGENCY PLAN
A contingency plan to cope with the effects of water supply shortages due to climatic or other conditions may be developed by the District and will be adopted by the Board after notice and hearing. In developing the contingency plan, the District will consider the economic effect of conservation measures upon all water storage conditions, the unique hydrogeologic conditions of the aquifer and the appropriate conditions under which to implement the contingency plan.
The drought contingency plan will be considered after the District has done water level monitoring across the District and compared this data with the rainfall trends during that period.
PROJECTED WATER SUPPLIES
1. Since a groundwater availability model for this area has not been released by the Texas Water Development Board, the district has utilized other resources including an assessment of groundwater resources in Refugio County prepared by the Department of Environmental Engineering at Texas A & M University-Kingsville. Under this model, the total estimated available groundwater on annual basis ranges from 42,320 acre feet to 65,950 acre feet. (TAMU—K, 2003). However, this is based upon a preliminary study and does not represent a final determination of groundwater supplies. The District will continue to develop actual groundwater data and modeling estimates. The District will revise this estimate as needed.
GROUNDWATER USAGE AND DEMAND
Figure 2: Historical Population and Future Population Projections for Refugio County
3.1.2 Water Supply and Demand Projections:
Based on the population projections presented above and using typical per capita consumption values (Steel and McGhee, 1979) the overall municipal water demand will roughly range between 2.0 MGD to 2.5 MGD over the 50 years planning period. The projected water demand for the year 2050 is about 2711 acre feet per annum (TWDB, 2002). The existing and projected water demand split up in the region shows the primary demand in the region is the municipal water and the demand split up in the region does not show any significant change in trend.
In order to ascertain the projected water supply and demand within the district it is necessary to obtain population growth patterns over the next several years. The population of the county is roughly around 8000 people and is exhibiting a declining trend over the last few decades (Census, 2002). However, nearly 700,000 people live within a 50 mile radius around the county and the county is frequented by a large number of tourists who are drawn to its natural and wildlife attractions (RCDF, 2002).
The historical population data for Refugio County are presented in Figure 2 along with projections over the next five decades. The historical population data have been obtained from Bureau of Census records for the period of 1930 – 2001 (Census, 2002). The population projections over the next 50 years are based on estimates provided by the Texas State Water Development Board (TWDB, 2002) and is based on the cohort-composite procedure. It is interesting to note that the population value used by the water development board for year 2000 (year 2000a in the figure) in their state planning is slightly different from the value provided by the Census Bureau. However, as the water development board assumes a larger population it is conservative from the standpoint of estimating water demands.
The total water demand in the county is 3558 acre feet in year 2000 and shows general declining trend. The projected water demand for the county is 2711 acre feet by year 2050. The water demands over the next 50 years for municipal and livestock use, that have been projected by the Texas state water development board have been independently checked and deemed reasonable based on population and agricultural projections for these years. The water development board projections however do not include ecological and as well as tourist demands.
The total amount of recharge under steady state conditions is estimated at 5,800 acre-feet per annum. The recharge rate could be increased by additional precipitation and reduction in vegetation and runoff. (TAMU – K, 2003)
MANAGEMENT OF GROUNDWATER SUPPLIES
This Management Plan ("the Plan" or "this Plan") has been adopted by the Board in accordance with Section 36.1071 of the Texas Water Code ("the Water Code") and will remain in effect for a period of ten years unless modified by the Board prior to the end of the planning period. The District, in partnership with the landowners of the District, will manage the groundwater within the District in accordance with its mission and goal while seeking to maintain the economic viability of all resource user groups, public and private. With due consideration to the economic, cultural, historical, and environmental activities occurring within the District, the District will identify and engage in such activities and practices, which, if implemented, would result the sustainability of the groundwater resources within the District, including reductions of groundwater use where necessary for that result.
A network of observation wells will be established and maintained in cooperation with private landowners in order to monitor changing storage conditions of groundwater within the District. The District will make regular assessments of water supply and groundwater storage conditions and will report those conditions to the public. The District will undertake and cooperate with investigations of the groundwater resources within the District and will make the results of investigations available to the public.
The District will adopt Rules from time to time ("the District Rules") which may regulate groundwater withdrawals by means of production limits and fees, spacing regulations, and export fees and requirements. The District may deny a well construction permit or limit groundwater withdrawals in accordance with the District Rules. In making a determination to deny a permit or limit groundwater withdrawals or export, the District will weigh the public benefit against individual hardship after considering all appropriate testimony. The relevant factors to be considered in making a determination to deny a permit or limit groundwater withdrawals will include:
(1) the projected effect on other wells, landowners, and groundwater users in the District;
(2) the projected environmental and economic effects of the water use including bays and estuaries;
(3) the projected effects on aquifer conditions;
(4) any projected subsidence resulting from the proposed water use;
(5) relationship of the proposed water use to historical uses of water in the district;
(6) the availability of water in the district and in the area of the well being considered;
(7) the availability of feasible and practicable alternative supplies to the applicant;
(8) the amount and purposes of use for water;
(9) any projected public benefit of the proposed use;
(10) the approved regional water plan and certified district management plan.
In pursuit of the District’s mission of managing, protecting, and conserving the resource, while protecting private property rights and promoting constructive and sustainable development in Refugio County, the District may be forced to require reductions of groundwater withdrawals from existing commercial or non-exempt wells. The District will not regulate domestic or livestock wells. To achieve this purpose, the District may, at the Board’s discretion, amend or revoke any permit after notice and hearing. The determination to seek the amendment or revocation of a permit by the District will be based on aquifer conditions observed by the District from time to time, as well as those factors listed above in relation to initial permits. If necessary, the District will enforce the terms and conditions of the permits and the District Rules by enjoining the permit holder in a court of competent jurisdiction as provide for in TWC 36.102.
ACTIONS, PROCEDURES, PERFORMANCE
The District will implement the provisions of this Plan and will utilize the provision of this Plan as guidelines for determining the direction or priority for all District activities. All operations of the District, all agreements entered into by the District, and any additional planning efforts in which the District may participate will be consistent with the provisions of this Plan. This Plan will remain in effect for a period of 10 years or until a revised or amended Plan may be certified, whichever occurs first.
The District has adopted or will adopt the District Rules relating to the permitting of wells and the production of groundwater. The District Rules shall be as required by the Water Code and the provisions of this Plan. All District Rules will be enforced. The promulgation and enforcement of the District Rules will be based on the best technical evidence available.
The District shall treat all citizens equally. Citizens may apply to the District for a waiver in the enforcement of one or more of the District Rules on grounds of adverse economic effects or unique local conditions. In granting or denying any waiver to any District Rule, the Board shall consider the potential for adverse effects on adjacent landowners. The exercise of discretion in the granting or denying of any waiver by the Board, shall not be construed as limiting the power of the Board.
In the implementation of this Plan and in the management of groundwater resources within the District, the District will seek the cooperation of all residents, landowners, and well owners of the District. All activities of the District will be undertaken in cooperation and coordination with any appropriate state, regional, or local water management entity.
The General Manager of the District (or, in the absence of a General Manager, the Chairman of the Board) will prepare and present an annual report to the Board of Directors ("the Annual Report") evaluating the impact of the District’s activities on its goals, management objectives, and performance standards (as enumerated below). The Annual Report will be presented at the last meeting of the Board of Directors in each fiscal year. The Annual Report will include the number of instances that each activity of the District occurred during the year (such as the monitoring of wells for water quality and levels, permitting, inspecting for permit compliance, securing abandoned wells), together with an estimate of the expenditure of staff time and cost so that the effectiveness and efficiency of each activity may be evaluated.
The annual District Manager’s Report will be received by the District Board and upon approval shall be available to the public at the District Office. The Board of Directors will meet at least quarterly to review all considerations by the District to fully comply with all rules and regulations set forth by the Texas Water Development Board.
GOALS, MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVES,
The goals, management objectives, and performance standards of the District are:
1. GOAL:Implement a system to improve the understanding of groundwater in the District.
1.1. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: On an annual basis, obtain all the new information gathered or generated on wells in Refugio County by the Texas Water Development Board, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, or any other water resource agency.
1.1.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD:Report annually to the Board on the number of requests made for information and the information received.
1.2. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE:Enlist private landowner cooperation to provide five additional observation wells each year to monitor water levels and/or production until the District has thirty (30) observation wells (or such lesser number as the Board may determine be adequate to monitor the groundwater resources of the County).
1.2.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD:Report to the Board annually on all new observation wells.
1.3. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE:Establish a database consisting of at least 5% of the registered and permitted wells in Refugio County by October 1, 2004, 10% by October 1, 2005, and 20% by October 1, 2007.
1.3.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD:Annually, provide to the Board a list of all new wells added to the database and an updated percentage of the wells in the database.
1.4. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE:Annually, evaluate and estimate current annual aquifer recharge, discharge, movement, and storage values.
1.4.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD:Annually, report to the Board the evaluation and estimate of aquifer characteristics for each aquifer.
1.5. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE:Compile a list of water use practices in the District by conducting a survey of existing water use practices by well owners.
1.5.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD:Annually, report the results to the Board.
2. GOAL:Implement a system of rules for the drilling, completing, equipping, and operating of water wells by October 1, 2004.
2.1. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE:Review rules adopted by other groundwater conservation districts.
2.1.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD:Review and report to the Board at the first meeting after July 1, 2004, together with any changes recommended to the District’s Rules.
2.2. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE:All current rules and procedures will be reviewed and revised to address the needs of the District every two years or as often as the Board may deem necessary.
2.2.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD:Annually, report to the Board on the number of recommended changes to insure that District rules meet the District needs.
3. GOAL:Implement or recommend management strategies that will provide for the most efficient use of groundwater and for the long-term the sustainability and conservation of the groundwater resources.
3.1.MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: Disperse educational information at least twice annually regarding conservation practices for the efficient use of water resources.
3.1.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Report to the Board annually the number of times that educational information was dispersed, including articles in local newspapers pertaining to the economic and environmental benefits of implementing efficient water use practices and the number of water conservation literature packets and other information handed out and distributed.
3.2. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: The District will register and permit all new wells, unless exempt by the District Rules.
3.2.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Report to the Board annually on the number of wells registered to be drilled and permitted in the District.
3.3. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: The District will file a drilling log or acceptable alternative for each new well drilled within the District that is submitted by the driller.
3.3.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Report to the Board annually on the number of driller’s records and reports filed by the District since the previous year.
3.4. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: Beginning January 1, 2005, file reports on static levels provided by well service operators.
3.4.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Report to the Board annually the number of static level reports filed by the District based on reports received from well service operators.
4. GOAL: Recommend management strategies that will protect and enhance the quantity and quality of recoverable water by controlling and preventing waste.
4.1. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: File all reports of wasteful practices within the District that are reported to the District.
4.1.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Provide a report to the Board annually indicating the number and location of wasteful practices reported
4.2. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: Encourage voluntary metering of non-exempt wells and apply for a grant to provide meters by October 1, 2004.
4.2.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Provide a report to the Board at the first meeting after October 1, 2004, and then annually indicating that an application was made and the number of meters installed on wells in the District.
5. GOAL: Prevent the degradation of the aquifers in the District and ensure that the citizens of the District will have adequate water in the future by considering regulations for (1) the spacing of wells from each other and from a well owner’s property lines and (2) the production of water from wells based on tract size.
5.1. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: Develop proposed regulations on spacing and production to include private and public wells and supply lines by October 1, 2004.
5.1.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Report to the Board annually that proposed spacing and production regulations are in place.
6. GOAL: Determine definitions of aquifer conditions to be used as trigger mechanisms to assist water suppliers in implementing emergency drought management plans by October 1, 2004.
6.1. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: Compare static levels of wells in the District’s database with historical rainfall to determine a correlation.
6.1.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Report the correlation to the Board and to water suppliers as often as necessary, but at least annually, to assist water suppliers in implementing their drought management plans.
7. GOAL: Minimize the potential for contamination of groundwater by new or existing wells.
7.1. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: Initiate a program to identify the location of all abandoned wells that will include a survey of landowners, well drillers, and the Texas Railroad Commission regarding any known abandoned wells, and initiate actions as necessary to enforce the notice, plugging and other requirements of Section 1901.255, Occupations Code.
7.1.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Include the results of these activities in the annual report.
8. GOAL: Prevent damage or degradation to the aquifers of the District by the excessive utilization of ground water from the District.
8.1. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: Each year, monitor permitted wells in the District.
8.1.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Report annually to the Board any decline or degradation of water levels or water quality in permitted wells.
9. GOAL: Promote cooperation between water management entities and user groups within the District.
9.1. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: Meet with the City of Refugio, and any small communities in the county for input into the future plans of the District and areas of local concern
9.1.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Include the results of all meetings and informational updates in the annual report.
9.2. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: Meet with Refugio County Commissioners annually to update future plans of mutual concern.
9.2.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Include the results of all meetings and informational updates in the annual report.
9.3. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: Meet with any city or development council in the county to give updates or information that will affect future plans or areas of mutual concern.
9.3.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Include the results of meetings and informational updates in the annual report.
9.4. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: Meet with any water user, water user group, or water purveyor within Refugio County and adjacent groundwater districts throughout the year to share information with the public and all interested parties.
9.4.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Include the results of these meetings in the annual report.
9.5. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: Coordinate with the South Central Texas Regional Water Planning Group and other Groundwater Conservation Districts in Groundwater Management Area 16 by furnishing a copy of the certified plan and other information.
9.5.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Include the results of this coordination in the annual report.
10. GOAL: Promote conjunctive management of surface water issues.
10.4. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: Meet with Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, San Antonio River Authority, and other surface water interests to discuss mutual areas of concern.
10.1.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Include the results of these meetings in the annual report.
11. GOAL:Control and prevention of subsidence.
11.1. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: Monitor any indication of significant subsidence.
11.1.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Include the results of this monitoring in the annual report.
12. GOAL:Cooperative resolution of natural resource management issues.
12.1. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE:Monitor any significant impact on endangered or threatened species dependent upon groundwater resources.
12.1.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Include the results of this monitoring in the annual report.
13. GOAL: Addressing drought conditions.
13.1. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: Semi annually the District will update the rainfall for the District in the last six months. An analysis will be made to predict possible changes in aquifer level. These predictions will be based on historic trends established by the water level monitoring program.
13.1.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: Issuance of a semi annual report.
14. GOAL: Addressing Conservation.
14.1. MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE: The District will on at least two occasions each year provide public information on water conservation and waste prevention through presentations at public schools, and civic organizations or newspaper articles.
14.1.1. PERFORMANCE STANDARD: a) Report the number of speaking appearances made by the District each year; and b) Report the number of newspaper articles published by the District each year.
Senate Bill 1 Management Goals Determined To Be Inapplicable: NONE
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