Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District appeals decision of judge who ruled in favor of Conroe in water lawsuit

The lawsuit between the city of Conroe and the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District over groundwater regulations is ongoing despite a Sept. 18 decision by visiting Judge Lamar McCorkle ruling that the district did not have legal authority to force large-volume groundwater users to reduce how much groundwater they use annually.

LSGCD General Manager Kathy Jones said via email that the LSGCD appealed this decision Oct. 3, and the district believes the 9th Court of Appeals will overturn the ruling.

According to court documents from the 284th Judicial District, the legal battle between the city of Conroe and the LSGCD has been going on since the city and seven other utility stakeholders filed a lawsuit against the district in August 2015 over countywide groundwater regulations.

The LSGCD board of directors unanimously adopted a long-term planning mandate in 2006 requiring all large-volume groundwater users—like Conroe—to reduce their groundwater use countywide to 70 percent of their 2009 totals by January 2016, Jones said. She said permittees had 10 years to find alternative water sources and were notified in advance.

The reductions were designed to address falling water levels in water wells and manage local groundwater aquifers more sustainably, Jones said.

Conroe City Attorney Marc Winberry said putting a cap on groundwater pumping was forcing utility providers in Conroe and Montgomery County to buy more surface water—thus increasing utility bills.

“We have long advocated for a reasonable set of rules that would be based on things like [groundwater] well spacing requirements and limiting the maximum volume that individual wells could pump,” Winberry said. “[LSGCD] is not being prohibited from regulating groundwater, but it’s being requested to regulate in a legal fashion.”
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