Conroe, October 10 – Social critic Bryant McGill has said, “When we buy junk, we become junk.” It has become apparent that the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD), in a rush to over-regulate to force water users into the high-priced water-selling hands of the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), has relied upon the coarsest of “junk science” to attempt to justify its regulations.
If you’re wondering why your water bills are so high, here’s the reason.
LSGCD has a nine-member Board of Directors right now. They’re all appointed by local municipal utility districts, the SJRA, the Montgomery County government, and a few others. There are no elected Board members.
SJRA, whose General Manager, Jace Houston, is an LSGCD Board member himself, clearly controls LSGCD at this point in time. It’s a massive of conflict of interest, because Houston leads a majority of the LSGCD Board to vote with him to enact very restrictive groundwater regulations.
SJRA’s open conflict of interest allows it to impose groundwater regulations in order to force water users to purchase surface water from SJRA at exorbitant monopolistic prices.
In 2006, LSGCG and SJRA jointly issued a “Regulatory Study and Facilities Implementation Plan.”
The heart of the 2006 study beats on page 14 where LSGCD and SJRA discussed their assumptions about the annual recharge rate for groundwater on an annual basis. Recharge rates are in important for groundwater regulation. If groundwater usage is lower than recharge rates, there is no necessity for conservation regulations. If recharge rates are lower than groundwater usage, then there’s a problem.
In the 2006 study, LSGCD and SJRA assumed that 1.1 inches of rainfall recharges into the groundwater aquifers of Montgomery County: “This estimate assumes 1.1 inches of the annual rainfall is recharged…” Based upon that assumption, LSGCD and SJRA concluded that only 64,000 acre-feet per year of groundwater is usable without causing depletion of the aquifers (in about 200 years!).
There’s a major problem, however, with LSGCD’s and SJRA’s low annual rainfall recharge estimate in the study upon which LSGCD has based its very restrictive groundwater regulations: it’s total junk. And, remember, when you buy junk, you become junk. LSGCD and SJRA are junk.
Here’s why LSGCD’s and SJRA’s “science” is actually junk.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is the foremost geological survey in the world. It has remained non-political and operates almost entirely as an independent organization within the United States Department of the Interior. For geoscientists, the USGS is one of the greatest places to work, because USGS is so divorced from the politics of the federal government or even of university academia.
It turns out that the USGS has studied this precise issue. In a 2016 report, the Geological Survey found “The estimate average total recharge rate in the study area is 6 inches per year.” In other words, the recharge water into the groundwater aquifers is almost six (6) times what LSGCD and SJRA have assumed.
LSGCD set 64,000 acre-feet-per year as the maximum amount of groundwater which Montgomery County residents may draw from their own wells. In order to implement this very restrictive use of groundwater, LSGCD began in 2009 to require groundwater users and producers to reduce their use of their own groundwater by 30%. That’s created an enormous quandary for cities such as Conroe and Magnolia, for utility companies, and for homeowners associations, who own wells or must provide or use groundwater for drinking water and other residential or businesses needs.
Since LSGCD restricted the ability of individuals and businesses to produce groundwater even from their own private wells, cities, utility companies, and other entities had to purchase their water from the other major source available in Montgomery County, surface water within the inventory of SJRA.
Thanks to LSGCD’s highly-restrictive regulations, based entirely upon the junkiest of junk science, SJRA has enjoyed the ability to sell surface water at monopoly prices which have sent residential and business water bills in Montgomery County into the stratosphere. As LSGCD candidate Jon Bouche said last Friday in a speech to the Woodlands Chamber of Commerce, “Everything’s fine until your water bill has a comma in it.”
Junk science foisted on Montgomery County citizens by LSGCD and SJRA has put a lot of commas into water bills.
That’s one of the primary reasons that the November 6 General Election of an entire new LSGCD Board of Directors, all of whom the citizens will have the opportunity to elect, is so historic. Citizens will have the direct ability to turn the spigots of junk science and needless regulations of private water property rights off forever.