Legislation filed in the Texas Legislature in March would guarantee The Woodlands representation on the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District board if signed into law.
Nine appointed members serve on the board of the LSGCD, including one representative from The Woodlands Joint Powers Agency. The LSGCD was established in 2001 to preserve and protect groundwater in the county.
However, Senate Bill 2250 authored by state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, would add a new representation protocol that consists of seven elected positions: one at-large, one from each of the four county precincts, one from The Woodlands Township and one from the city of Conroe. All positions would be elected by voters in each jurisdiction, according to the bill.
Creighton’s bill was not the only piece of legislation filed this session related to the LSGCD. State Rep. Will Metcalf, R-Conroe; state Rep. Cecil Bell Jr., R-Magnolia; and state Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, filed House Bill 1982 on Feb. 16 to convert the LSGCD board of directors into a board of five elected officials. This is similar to Creighton’s bill but without the positions for The Woodlands and Conroe.
“Of all the groundwater districts in the state of Texas, the San Jacinto River Authority is the only river authority that has a seat at the groundwater conservation district board,” Metcalf said. “So not only is that abnormal, all of these other special-interest groups have a seat at the table.”
The Woodlands Township approved a resolution in support of Creighton’s bill in March.
“[Creighton’s] concern with limiting [the board] to five members was that it wasn’t broad enough to provide protection from water suppliers trying to buy three-fifths of a new board at the first election to control their own regulator,” township board Chairman Gordy Bunch said.
However, the LSGCD board remains in flux with the appointment of a new member. During its Feb. 13 meeting, the Montgomery County Commissioners Court appointed former Conroe Mayor Webb Melder—who criticized groundwater regulations established by the LSGCD on the county while in office—as one of the county’s representatives on the LSGCD board.
“The Texas Supreme Court has made it very clear that groundwater is private property,” Melder said. “I have been on record repeatedly [saying] everybody is entitled to their own opinion, and that opinion can include groundwater science, but you are not entitled to your own set of laws.”
LSGCD General Manager Kathy Turner Jones said the district respects the decision made by the county.
“There are always ways to work together for the betterment of Montgomery County as long as both parties are willing to meet in the middle,” she said.