Gonzales County Precinct 2 Commissioner Donnie Brzozowski told his fellow commissioners he has concerns about contractors wanting to build large subdivisions out in rural county areas without knowing if there will be enough water to support these developments.
During a recent Gonzales County Commissioners Court meeting, Brzozowski said he was recently contacted by one company “about wanting to do a subdivision that would be on 420 acres and they want to do 42 homesites” near the Waelder area.
“It’s not even a mile from where GBRA (Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority) are drilling their new wells, so I was concerned that there would be 42 more water wells there because there’s no real water there,” Brzozowski said. “GBRA hasn’t even gone online yet with their water wells, where they want to send water to Hays County, Lockhart, San Marcos and the Austin area, and I learned they are already asking to double the amount of water they are going to take. They haven’t even started yet.
“I think we need to be concerned about these bigger subdivisions. When you have 42 new wells coming into a place, what’s that going to do to our water table, especially when GBRA starts pulling water if they are going to pull double if they get approved for it?”
GBRA has submitted a drilling and production permit application to the Gonzales County Underground Water Conservation District (GCUWCD) that would allow them to drill three new public supply wells in the Carrizo Aquifer while performing pump upgrades to seven existing wells they have approximately five miles northwest of Waelder off County Road 444, between Farm-to-Market Road 1296 and FM 304 in Gonzales County.
At this time, GBRA can draw a maximum of 15,000 acre-feet of groundwater per year from their seven existing wells, but this new permit would allow them to produce an additional 9,000 acre-feet of water per year, bringing their total production to 24,000 acre-feet with a proposed average rate of production of 2,000 gallons per minute.
“I don’t think they should be approved (for the increased production),” Brzozowski said. “I think they should pull what they are approved for already and let’s see what that does to the water table.”
Brzozowski said he heard from a real estate agent who spoke about a North Texas subdivision where county officials had approved a subdivision order without any knowledge of whether there was enough water to support the development.
“They (the developers) go out and set it off, they get ready to go out to drill wells and they don’t have any decent water,” Brzozowski said. “How’s that going to come back and affect the county? Are they going to try to come back to sue us because they couldn’t get any water?
“I’d like to see (the court) meet with Gonzales County Underground Water District about making some changes where perhaps (developers) need to dig a test well and prove there’s going to be enough water. We don’t want to approve a subdivision and have people get out there and they don’t have enough water.
“Water is an important thing,” Brzozowski said. “They can’t wash their dishes, flush their toilets, drink water or water their livestock without it and what’s it going to do to the people who are already there?”
County Judge Pat Davis agreed with Brzozowski and suggested the county may need to “reach out to some kind of attorney who can research this and see what kind of authority we have to do something.”
One Hill Country county has already taken steps to address this very issue — Burnet County.
According to Burnet County Development Services Director Herb Darling, any developer wanting to put in a new subdivision must “prove water” by digging test wells and satisfying both the Burnet County Commissioners Court and the Central Texas Water Conservation District there will be enough water available on-site to support new development.
Burnet County’s subdivision regulations include Appendix G, adopted by commissioners in March 2019, which states if a subdivision intends to use groundwater for their water supply, they have to include with the plat application a statement prepared by an engineer or geoscientist attesting that adequate groundwater is available for the subdivision and this information has to have been presented to the Texas Water Development Board and Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District as well.
The certification indicates the number of acre-feet of water to be drawn out over a 10-year and a 30-year period as well as a statement of sufficiency.