Conroe, October 2 – Senior District Judge Lamar McCorkle, sitting for the 284th District Court of Montgomery County, ruled that, as a matter of law, the core groundwater regulation, which is Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD) has imposed on large groundwater producers, is outside of LSGCD’s authority under the Texas Water Code and is not valid. Judge McCorkle’s ruling is a major setback for the aggressive regulatory district which has attempted to impose highly restrictive groundwater usage regulations on private property owners.
Specifically, Judge McCorkle’s Order declares invalid, the regulations that require large volume groundwater users to reduce their permitted production by 30% by January 1, 2016, and to seek “alternative water sources” for water demand beginning in 2016. The imposition of the regulations forced many water utility providers such as the City of Conroe, and private utility companies to enter into extraordinarily expensive contracts with the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) to meet their customers’ water needs.
By forcing the City of Conroe, the City of Magnolia, and large groundwater producers arbitrarily – and without reasonable scientific basis – to reduce their groundwater production from their own groundwater, LSGCD forced those entities and ultimately their end user customers (the residents and businesses of Montgomery County!) to have to purchase surface water from the monopolistic SJRA at much higher prices. That’s the primary reason water prices have soared in Montgomery County as have residential water bills. Who controls the current LSGCD Board of Directors? The SJRA.
LSGCD Board member Webb Melder, who opposes the regulations and is running for the elected Board of LSGCD which will take office later this year, declared, “This victory is giant for the people of Montgomery County. This legal ruling will give the new Lone Star Board the ability to turn back the regulations and start to lower everyone’s water bills.”
Harry Hardman, the popular resident running for the Countywide at-large position on the LSGCD Board, explained, “Today is a great day for the citizens of Montgomery County. The judgment validates what I and the other Restore Affordable Water (‘RAW’) candidates have been saying – the collusion between Lone Star and the San Jacinto River Authority is unlawful and wrong.”
Hardman added a sickening note: “The fact that the LSGCD Board spent almost $1.7 million of taxpayer money defending a suit they knew was indefensible is totally unconscionable and is just another example of why the Legislature was compelled to lawfully force the LSGCD to move to an elected Board from an appointed one.”
Under Judge McCorkle’s ruling, LSGCD may appeal directly to the Beaumont Court of Appeals for review. Melder told the Montgomery County Tea Party yesterday, “I’m hopeful that the elected Board will bring an end to this litigation madness by voting to drop any appeals.”
RAW, the citizens’ property rights organization, which Hardman mentioned above, is running a full slate of candidates in the November 6, 2018, Election for all seven seats to the LSGCD Board. RAW has endorsed the following slate of pro-property rights candidates for LSGCD:
- Stuart Taylor, running in Commissioners Precinct 1 (unopposed);
- Jim Spigener, running in Commissioners Precinct 2;
- Jon Paul Bouche, running in Commissioners Precinct 3;
- Jonathan Prykryl, running in Commissioners Precinct 4;
- Harry Hardman, running Countywide at-large;
- Webb Melder, running for the City of Conroe LSGCD Board seat; and
- Larry Rogers, running for the Woodlands Township Board seat.