Water-management agencies and local officials gathered Jan. 30 to explore regional water regulations and standards that will affect future groundwater usage for Montgomery County residents.

Representatives from Groundwater Management Area 14, or GMA 14, held a joint meeting to begin the process of adopting a set of desired future conditions, or DFCs. GMA 14 comprises representatives from Bluebonnet, Brazoria County, Lone Star, Lower Trinity and Southeast Texas groundwater conservation districts as well as two subsidence districts. GMA 14, which spans 20 counties, is one of 16 groundwater management areas in the state of Texas, according to Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District.

LSGCD General Manager Kathy Turner Jones said GMA 14 must host a planning committee at least once annually. The committee will create a series of desired future conditions that outline standards for how much groundwater is available for use from underground aquifers.

LSGCD, the city of Conroe and seven other utility stakeholders recently reached a settlement agreement Jan. 24 in the multiyear lawsuit over water usage in Montgomery County. With this settlement, the newly-elected LSGCD board of directors must adopt a new district management plan. LSGCD must file the document, which details future management of groundwater resources, every five years with the Texas Water Development Board.

In a prepared statement to GMA 14 representatives, LSGCD board Vice President Harry Hardman said the board has found itself without a set of reasonable desired future conditions. In mid-September, a visiting judge ruled that LSGCD's rule restricting pumping from large-volume groundwater users was illegal. Hardman said the board is proposing GMA 14 revise its methodology on how it decides to conserve groundwater.

“We would like GMA 14 to first identify the boundaries of each common, subsurface reservoir in GMA 14 for the purpose of adopting DFCs,” Hardman said in his statement. “With the boundaries of the common reservoirs in hand, we can then set appropriate [standards] for each delineated common reservoir.”

Wade Oliver, senior hydrogeologist for Intera Geoscience and Engineering Solutions, said GMA 14 will meet about every other month, and the planning group could adopt desired future conditions by January 2020. Intera is the company serving as a research consultant for ongoing GMA 14 meetings.

The next GMA 14 meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. March 27 at the LSGCD office building, located at 655 Conroe Park North Drive, Conroe.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated how often GMA 14 members gather.