Workshop scheduled to discuss Western Mitigation funding


The Gonzales Underground Water Conservation District will be holding a public workshop to discuss additional funding in its mitigation program Jan. 13 at the GUWCD, 522 Saint Matthew St., Gonzales.

The Western Mitigation fund, which aims to offset the effects of outside pumping within the district — such as Guadalupe Blanco River Authority in the Carrizo aquifer — is reportedly out of financial stability. GBRA is asking the Gonzales County Underground Water Conservation District to increase its permit from an original 15,000 acre-feet of water rights in the Carrizo Aquifer to 24,000 acre-feet, an increase of 9,000 acre-feet.

“We’re going to start the process to increase our funding,” GUWCD Precinct Two Director Mike St. John said. “I don’t know if that’s going to take weeks or months. As it is now, they’re (water producers) not scheduled to increase the funding until this fall.”

According to GUWCD, there will be six primary changes to the Western Mitigation Program to help resolve financial instability which they claim was necessitated by the lack of funding that has occurred as a result of both an extended drought, third biggest on record in 2022 for the county, and the rise of both material and labor costs in handling mitigation requests.

The six key issues were ordered by importance for those affected by outside drainage in the Carrizo Aquifer, with the top three being residential homes who have one or more residents over 65 years of age; any residential home near Carrizo regardless of age (under 65); and a residential home with a livestock concurrent use of ground water from a Carrizo well, respectively. 

Going down that list, the bottom three considerations included a non-residential home that’s primary use is livestock; any secondary home irrespective of any age; and any non-residential home that’s primary use is solely for business or commercial purposes respectively. 

If multiple Carrizo wells exist on a single property, then only one will be in qualification. GUWCD will look at each of these wells on a case-by-case basis.

This decision was met with some citizen pushback, with many concerns regarding the amount of drainage being pumped in such a concentrated area. 

A preliminary contested case hearing on the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority’s request to drill three additional water wells in the Carrizo Aquifer has been set for Thursday, Feb. 16, before hearing examiner Judge Stephen B. Ables.

The individuals who are protesting the permit application have until Jan. 23, 2023, to submit all briefs to Ables for review, while the applicants have until Feb. 6, 2023, to submit their responses. The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, at the Gonzales County Underground Water Conservation District, 522 Saint Matthew Street, Gonzales.