Image: Restore Affordable Water President Simon Sequeira spoke to the Montgomery County Tea Party on Monday, August 6, 2018.
Conroe, August 7 – Restore Affordable Water (RAW) President Simon Sequeira wowed a capacity crowd at the Montgomery County Tea Party meeting in Conroe during the evening of Monday, August 6, 2018. The crowd included two welcome newcomers to the “tea party” movement: San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) General Manager Jace Houston who sat in the audience during the entire presentation and one of the conservative-leaning SJRA Board members, Kaaren Cambio of Kingwood, whom Governor Greg Abbott recently appointed to the controversial SJRA Board.
“Death by regulation is what I call it,” Sequeira told the audience, referring to the regulations of the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD) which limit private property owners’ usage of their own groundwater upon the threat of fines of $10,000 per day for noncompliance. “Our groundwater is taken from us because of government regulation every second of the day. These regulations are putting Montgomery County businesses at a disadvantage when neighboring counties, like Liberty County, which draws from the same acquifer, has no regulations at all.”
A study by the Bush School of Government of Texas A&M University did a capstone duty in which the school’s researchers concluded that there is essentially an unlimited supply of groundwater in Montgomery County. “If we wanted to try to use 2% of the acquifer with a rate of growth higher than we have now, it would take 200 years for us to use up the two percent.” The Bush School study concluded that local groundwater conservative districts, like LSGCD, have “caused a regulation-induced shortage of groundwater.”
Sequeira added, “We don’t have a water problem in Montgomery County; we have a government problem.”
According to Sequeira, LSGCD and SJRA signed a secret interlocal agreement in 2005 which was a contract to help each other to force Montgomery County away from groundwater to the use of surface water. LSGCD agreed to be “of assistance” to SJRA in forcing water users to use SJRA’s surface water inventory rather than groundwater.
In 2009, State Senator Robert Nichols (R-Tyler) refused to allow the SJRA to pass legislation that would have imposed an unknown cost structure on Montgomery County citizens to force them to purchase SJRA surface water instead of the groundwater they owned. Nichols killed the legislation on the floor of the Texas Senate in defiance of SJRA and LSGCD. State Representative Rob Eissler had authored the legislation that would have forced every groundwater producer to sign a contract with the river authority to purchase surface water.
SJRA, which has a Board seat on LSGCD and which controls the majority of the LSGCD Board, instead used a harsh groundwater regulatory scheme to force groundwater users to purchase surface water. LSGCD rules required all groundwater users to reduce their use of groundwater by 30% by approximately 2012.
Sequeira exaplained that RAW is seeking candidates to run for the LSGCD Board of Directors election in November. “There are no qualifications other than a healthy distrust of government, because you’re going to be told a lot of stories sitting on that board and you’ll have to take them with a grain of salt.”
August 23, 2018, is the deadline to file a petition to run on the LSGCD Board of Directors ballot. There are seven open seats, one countywide, one in each Commissioners Precinct for a total of four, one in the Woodlands Township, and one in the City of Conroe.