Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District's rules deemed void, unenforceable; Texas Water Development Board rejects district's management goals

This article has been updated to include comment from the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District.

Senior District Judge Lamar McCorkle signed a final judgement May 17 declaring the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District's rules void and unenforceable, according to a release by the LSGCD.

Samantha Reiter, interim general manager of the LSGCD, said the 30% reduction rule was declared statutorily invalid from the beginning by a judge and therefore cannot legally be included in the LSGCD's rules or regulatory plan.

The conflict between the city of Conroe and the LSGCD first began when the LSGCD board of directors adopted a long-term planning mandate in 2006 requiring all large-volume groundwater users—such as Conroe—to reduce their groundwater use countywide to 70 percent of their 2009 totals, or 10 million gallons, by January 2016, LSGCD officials said. Officials said the reductions were designed to manage local groundwater aquifers more sustainably.

In August 2015, the city of Conroe and seven other utility stakeholders filed a lawsuit against the district opposing the rate increase and its groundwater regulations for large-volume users. The lawsuit reached a settlement agreement in January, shortly after the new LSGCD board dismissed its legal counsel.

In addition to the final ruling, the Texas Water Development Board rejected of the LSGCD's newly proposed groundwater management plan for Montgomery County. The TWDB instructed the LSGCD to use management goals approved by groundwater districts in surrounding counties, according to a news release from the San Jacinto River Authority.

The TWDB’s decision to not approve the submitted management plan had no effect on the judge’s ruling declaring the reduction rule void and unenforceable, Reiter said.

“Aquifer over-use has real consequences like land subsidence and water reliability problems,” said SJRA General Manager Jace Houston in a statement. “Many entities plan for our region’s water supply. It takes state, city, county and regional partners. This ruling by the TWDB tells Lone Star they cannot adopt a plan that is out of sync with all other water entities in the region and ultimately harmful to our water supply.”

The SJRA release stated Texas law requires groundwater conservation districts that share a planning area to jointly approve management goals for the aquifers they share.

"In its proposed management plan, the new Lone Star board claimed there was no approved management goal or MAG for the aquifers in Montgomery County. The TWDB rejected this theory ruling that both management goals and MAGs were in fact approved by the area in 2010 in the form of desired future conditions," the statement read.

Next, the LSGCD is expected to prepare and submit a new management plan including objectives and performance standards within 180 days. Reiter said the LSGCD is still reviewing and formulating a response.
By Jules Rogers
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Jules Rogers has been covering community journalism and urban trade news since 2014. She moved to Houston in June 2018 to become an editor with Community Impact Newspaper after four years of reporting for various newspapers affiliated with the Portland Tribune in Oregon, including two years at the Portland Business Tribune. Before that, Jules spent time reporting for the Grants Pass Daily Courier in Southern Oregon. Her favorite beats to cover are business, economic development and urban planning.


MOST RECENT

Humble ISD educates more than 45,000 students. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Humble ISD looks to hire 160 middle, high school positions at June job fairs

The fair is open to all qualified candidates who are encouraged to bring a resume, and registration is not required.

Russ Poppe, the Harris County Flood Control District executive director, will officially step down July 2 after nearly fifteen years in the position. (Courtesy Harris County Flood Control District)
Executive Director Russ Poppe announces resignation from Harris County Flood Control District

Harris County Flood Control District Executive Director Russ Poppe announced his resignation June 11.

Robert Mock headshot
Houston names new emergency center director

The center manages 911 calls and other emergency communications.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas issued a call for Texans to conserve energy June 14. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
ERCOT asks Texans to conserve energy with generation outages 2.5 times higher than normal

"This is unusual for this early in the summer season," said Woody Rickerson, ERCOT vice president of grid planning and operations, in a news release.

League City's Helen Hall Library History Club hosted an event related to Juneteenth on June 7. The holiday honors Union Gen. Gordon Granger coming to Galveston in 1865 to announce the liberation of enslaved people in Texas. (Graphic by Justin Howell/Community Impact Newspaper)
Celebrate Juneteenth in Galveston with a movie screening, parade and more on June 17, 19

The Juneteenth Legacy Project, which aims to recontextualize the day and properly communicate its story and relevance, is hosting or advertising numerous events over the course of the holiday weekend.

Missouri City resident Jackie Ward became the chief nursing officer at Texas Children’s Hospital in January. (Photo by Michael Carr Photography, graphic by Chase Brooks/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Jackie Ward, Texas Children's Hospital chief nursing officer, discusses career, nursing during COVID-19

Prior to becoming chief nursing officer, Missouri City resident Jackie Ward worked as an oncology nurse and in a variety of leadership roles at Texas Children's Hospital.

The Montgomery County Animal Shelter took in over 660 animals since June 1. (Anna Lotz/Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery County Animal Shelter at 'critical capacity point'

The shelter is waiving adoption fees, and all adoptable pets have been vaccinated, dewormed, microchipped and spayed or neutered.

The Atrium Center will be able to be reserved for meetings, conferences, weddings, anniversary celebrations, birthday parties and community events. (Courtesy Rockin’ AD Photography)
East Montgomery County Improvement District offices to be repurposed into event venue The Atrium Center

The venue will be able to be reserved for meetings, conferences, weddings, anniversary celebrations, birthday parties and community events.

Construction on the The Promise House, a day center aimed at assisting the local homeless population, will begin on June 14 in Humble. (Rendering courtesy of The Family Promise of Lake Houston)
Construction set to begin on The Promise House homeless day center in Humble

The Promise House will serve the local homeless community by providing individual counseling services, higher education and training classes, mentoring, and administrative offices for area families.

Taco Bueno sells tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos and more unique items, including the Muchaco, a taco made with a soft pita-like shell. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Taco Bueno coming to Katy and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority has secured an almost $49.1 million bond to fund the upcoming Northpark Drive overpass project in Kingwood. (Courtesy Pexels)
Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority secures $49.1M bond to fund Northpark Drive overpass project

The board of directors also discussed $50 million that was earmarked in the state's budget to fund future dredging efforts in Lake Houston.