Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, the entity tasked with regulating groundwater in Montgomery County, has approved Phase 2 of a subsidence study, according to a June 15 news release from the LSGCD. Subsidence refers to the gradual sinking of the earth, which can result from excessive groundwater use.

The second phase, which is expected to be completed in 2022, will build on the initial phase by developing a long-term plan for data collection and evaluation to help policymakers understand the effects of groundwater pumping on subsidence in the county, according to the news release. During Phase 1 of the study, consultants compiled a database of past subsidence studies, assessed historical models and prioritized additional work on the issue.

"This study is a necessary step for to us have a holistic understanding of subsidence, help mitigate potential impacts and equip all residents of Montgomery County with the information needed for them to take the necessary steps locally to protect themselves," LSGCD President Harry Hardman said. "It will also allow those not being impacted by subsidence the information necessary to make the right decision for them."

Future phases of the study include site-specific investigations and field work such as core sampling to better understand the aquifers in Montgomery County.

Each stage is designed to help the LSGCD, the county, local areas of the county most susceptible to subsidence, and Groundwater Management Area 14—which consists of several groundwater conservation districts, including LSGCD—develop a better understanding of where subsidence is occurring, why it is occurring and how to address potential impacts, according to the LSGCD mews release.

The LSGCD is pushing back against GMA 14's proposed subsidence desired future condition, or DFC, a long-term goal for the aquifers, which could limit subsidence in the GMA to no more than an average of 1 foot between 2009 and 2080.

LSGCD claims the proposed subsidence metric creates "arbitrary restrictions," which LSGCD cannot accurately measure. On May 25, Hardman asked Montgomery County Commissioners to adopt a resolution opposing GMA 14's proposed DFC. Hardman has been vocal about his opposition to using subsidence data in Montgomery County to make policy decisions when it is not clear how much of the subsidence is a result of pumping from Harris County.

The LSGCD states that the results of this study will help drive subsidence policy for Montgomery County and the region.

However, the subsidence study will likely not be finished by the time a final DFC will need to be adopted in January 2022, according to previous reporting from Community Impact Newspaper. The four other groundwater conservation districts in GMA 14 are all supportive of the proposed DFC statement that includes the subsidence metric.