Wimberley Community Meeting

Summary Report

After refusing to comply with drought restrictions and over-pumping its permit by 90 million gallons in 2022, Aqua Texas sued the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD) for enforcing the rules that protect our water. Last week, the Watershed Association and the Trinity Edwards Spring Protection Association (TESPA) held a meeting to update the community about our ongoing efforts to address this issue. Over 400 community members showed up to the meeting.

In case you were unable to attend, here is a brief summary:

Aqua’s lawsuit asserts that Groundwater Conservation Districts (GCDs) have no authority to limit groundwater pumping. If Aqua were to win this case, the rules that protect groundwater in Texas would be effectively overturned. We cannot allow this to happen. 

TESPA plans to intervene in this federal district court litigation to assist HTGCD in defending itself, and the rights of all Groundwater Conservation Districts. According to Jim Blackburn, President of TESPA, “This could be one of the most important legal actions ever undertaken with regard to water in Texas.”

In addition, TESPA is filing a petition with the Public Utility Commission (PUC), to revoke Aqua’s Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN), which grants it the exclusive right to provide water and sewer service in this area. This is based upon Aqua's statements that it cannot meet demand while following the law, and the fact that the PUC granted Aqua this Certificate with the understanding that it would serve less than half the number of customers it currently serves. 

Finally, the Woodcreek Property Owners Association, the Watershed Association, TESPA, and utility customers in Woodcreek North are contesting Aqua's application at the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to raise residential customers’ monthly water and sewer bills by more than $50 per month. In Aqua’s letters to customers and in its lawsuit, it claims that it is investing in conservation solutions to protect the aquifer. But it appears that Aqua is not investing in fixing its leaks. Instead, it is investing in new test wells, and in expanding its infrastructure to reach more customers. Participating in this rate case helps to ensure that Aqua is not making customers foot the bill for projects that do not improve their service or reduce the strain on our aquifer.

Doug Wierman, hydrogeologist, shared the following insights:

Slight changes in aquifer levels (due to groundwater pumping) determine whether our springs flow or not. 

Aqua’s new test wells draw down water levels in the Middle Trinity Aquifer, which directly impact Jacob's Well and other local utility and residential wells. They are not a viable alternative to its current wells, and do not represent an investment in conservation.

Aqua’s Woodcreek systems have been leaking around 30% of the water that flows through them for over 15 years. That is more than twice what other large utilities in the HTGCD typically leak. In 2022, the amount of water that Aqua leaked from these systems was 10% more than the flow from Jacob’s Well.

In summary, TESPA and the Watershed Association are undertaking several legal actions to hold Aqua accountable:

  • Intervening in Aqua’s lawsuit against HTGCD to defend the rights of the District, and all Groundwater Conservation Districts, to protect water through science-based regulations. 
  • File a petition with the Public Utility Commission (PUC), to revoke Aqua’s exclusive right to provide water and sewer service in this area, unless such service can be provided without violating HTGCD’s rules.
  • Prevent Aqua from raising its customers’ rates by more than $50 per month (unless they can prove that the funding goes toward projects that improve service and reduce the strain on our aquifer).

How You Can Help:

  • Contact your elected officials. Ask them to create a long-term regional plan to develop alternative water sources, like rainwater, reclaimed wastewater, and aquifer storage and recovery. Tell them this plan is necessary to protect Jacob’s Well, Pleasant Valley Springs, the value of our homes, and the viability of our economy.  
  • Tell the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District board members that you support them in their efforts to hold Aqua accountable for their violations, and ask them to stand strong.
  • Reduce your water consumption. Making cutbacks on outdoor watering for lawns can save nearly 60% of annual household water use. 
  • Support our efforts to defend and strengthen the authority of Groundwater Conservation Districts. We need strong GCDs to create and enforce science-based regulations that protect water across the state for people and for nature.
Protect Our Water

Thank you for your continued support.

Together we are a powerful force for change

in our region and beyond!

Special thanks to our speakers: 

  • Jim Blackburn: President of the Trinity Edwards Spring Protection Association (TESPA), Attorney, and Professor in the Practice of Environmental Law, at Rice University 
  • David Baker, Executive Director of the Watershed Association
  • Adam Friedman: Attorney, partner with McElroy, Sullivan, Miller & Weber LLP 
  • Jeff Mundy: Attorney, The Mundy Firm
  • Doug Wierman, Hydrogeologist and Texas Geoscientist 
  • Lauren Ice: Attorney, partner at Perales, Allmon, & Ice 

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We THANK YOU for your ongoing support and dedication to preserve and protect our beloved Hill Country Land and Water.

For the Love of Water,

The Watershed Association Board and Staff

Visit our website to discover in-depth information on our conservation programs, policy and advocacy, and other important initiatives dedicated to safeguarding our precious land and water in the Texas Hill Country.

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