Conroe, November 16 – State Representative Will Metcalf will swear in the newly-elected Board of Directors for the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD) at a meeting of the newly-elected Board at 9 a.m. today at the district’s ridiculously-plush office located at 655 Conroe North Park Drive, Conroe, Texas 77303. The seven-member Board is the first elected LSGCD Board in this history of the District.
The new Board members are:
- Stuart Traylor representing Commissioners Precinct 1;
- Jim Spigener representing Commissioners Precinct 2;
- Jon Bouche representing Commissioners Precinct 3;
- Jonathan Prykryl representing Commissioners Precinct 4;
- Harry Hardman representing Montgomery County at-large;
- Webb Melder representing the City of Conroe;
- Larry Rogers representing the Woodlands Township.
The seven elected members of the Board swept into office on the promises that they would:
- Deregulate groundwater production in Montgomery County;
- Reduce spending of the LSGCD; and
- Bring a swift conclusion to LSGCD’s litigation.
By deregulating groundwater production, groundwater producers as well as private groundwater owners would not need to purchase expensive surface water from the monopolistic San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), which has controlled the Board until the present time. As soon as utility companies, homeowners associations, real estate developers, and municipalities are able to break away from the expensive SJRA water purchase contracts, water prices for residential and business users should drop precipitously throughout the community.
The LSGCD Board has several major opportunities that will arise just in the next few days.
Very clearly, after the new Board elects its new officers, its first action should be to terminate LSGCD General Manager Kathy Jones “for cause” as a result of her violations of the Texas Election Code and her numerous violations of the Texas Water Code, as former Conroe Mayor Webb Melder discussed in great detail during the electoral campaign culminating in the November 6, 2018, General Election. Maintaining Jones as an employee would defy the “rule of law” and send a message that the new Board will just continue business as usual despite their electoral promises. Furthermore, maintaining Jones as an employee would continue to give her access to District operations and information.
On Tuesday, November 20, 2018, at 10 a.m., the new Board of Directors will have an even greater opportunity. Clearly, the central issue of the entire LSGCD campaign during the November 6 General Election cycle was the point which Spigener, Bouche, Prykryl, Hardman, Melder, and Rogers forcefully made, that hard science makes clear that there is no need to regulate groundwater in Montgomery County, because Montgomery County is the equivalent of the “Saudi Arabia of groundwater.” Scientific studies from the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M University and from expert witnesses in LSGCD litigation have made clear that there is no necessity to regulate groundwater usage.
At the November 20 meeting, LSGCD’s bureaucrats and legal team will try to foist a new set of regulations for groundwater usage on the new Board. Clearly, the Board should “just say NO.” Internally, the LSGCD’s lawyers have tried to argue that there is a deadline to comply with a regional water management authority’s regulations of November 20, but, in fact, there is no legal downside to LSGCD’s refusal to adopt the regulations. The citizens elected the seven reformers to the LSGCD Board on their promises that they would deregulate. They made clear to the citizens that they had studied the science and the issues and that there is no question deregulation is appropriate. Therefore, LSGCD’s new Board of Directors will have a marvelous opportunity on November 20 to show the citizens of Montgomery County and other government entities how a Board of Directors with integrity and fortitude looks.
LSGCD’s new Board of Directors will have a marvelous opportunity on November 20 to show the citizens of Montgomery County and other government entities how a Board of Directors with integrity and fortitude looks.
As Melder forcefully promised, LSGCD’s new Board should, of course, swiftly move to dismiss the appeal by LSGCD of the ruling of Senior District Judge Lamar McCorkle on Senior District Judge Lamar McCorkle, sitting for the 284th District Court of Montgomery County, who ruled in early October that, as a matter of law, the core groundwater regulation, which 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 was a major setback for the aggressive regulatory district which has attempted to impose highly restrictive groundwater usage regulations on private property owners. After McCorkle issued his ruling, the LSGCD filed a notice of appeal with the Beaumont Court of Appeals in a new legal proceeding which will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to fight directly against taxpayer interests.
LSGCD Board member Webb Melder, who opposed the regulations during the campaign, 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.”
Hardman explained on October 2, “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.”
Firing Jones, refusing to adopt the November 20 regulations, and bringing a swift dismissal of the LSGCD’s appeal of Judge McCorkle’s ruling will show the citizens how leaders with integrity behave.
Of course, there is always the fear that power will corrupt quickly and efficiently. Restore Affordable Water (RAW), the citizens rights group that carefully vetted these seven candidates, worked hard to make certain that these seven individuals are above the corruption of newly-found power.