Wasting water is not a property right
Several weeks ago, in a letter to the editor in The Eagle, a citizen wrote that since he paid for his water, wasting it was his right as a property owner. Unfortunately, he’s not alone in that mistaken belief.
Under Texas law, College Station’s water wells are permitted by the Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District and permit rule 8.8.3 stipulates that well water must be used “in a non-wasteful manner.” The term “waste” includes water that is not used for a “beneficial purpose.” The rates that homeowners pay each month represent a fair share of system costs, not a right to be irresponsible with a precious resource.
Water supply isn’t an issue – for now
College Station is not running out of water, but additional water supplies will be much more difficult and expensive to obtain in the future. Right now, we hold permits from the Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District for 22,626 acre-feet per year of groundwater (water from wells), which equates to 7.37 billion gallons per year. To date, our highest annual usage is 4.55 billion gallons.
When the city’s water service area is fully built out, we expect water demand to be about 6.2 billion gallons per year, which gives us a reasonable cushion. But this projection includes a healthy degree of water conservation and the implementation of water reuse. Without these measures, the projections are much less favorable. Of course, we will continually track these numbers closely.
Our water at its source
Our aquifer is managed so it will remain a dependable water source for many future generations. Ninety-eight percent of College Station’s water comes from the Simsboro Sand Formation of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer. This aquifer extends from Texarkana to Laredo, but the Brazos Valley falls in a 10-county region isolated by fault lines. This region has been defined by the state as Groundwater Management Area 12, and the Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District is one of five districts within GMA-12.
Under a process set forth by state law, GMA-12 has established the desired future condition of the aquifer, which creates pumping limits to ensure the aquifer is never depleted. Our district’s total Simsboro pumping is limited to 103,000 acre-feet per year, and permits have already been issued up to this limit. Therefore, it’s very unlikely we will get additional permits for water beyond the 22,626 acre-feet per year that we now hold. We have plans in place to make up the difference if our demands exceed this limit, but they are all much more expensive, compared to Simsboro water.
Director of Water Services