The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District board of directors voted to authorize filing a notice of appeal to the Texas Water Development Board at the July 9 meeting.
The LSGCD is appealing the TWDB’s May rejection of its district management plan filed in March, according to LSGCD interim General Manager Samantha Reiter.
“I don’t know if they’ll change their minds, but it’s one of our options,” Reiter said over the phone after the meeting. “One [other option]is to accept their recommendation to use the 2010 [Desired Future Conditions], which the board does not feel comfortable doing given that the 2016 DFCs are similar.”
Reiter said the LSGCD went through a DFC appeal for the 2016 DFC, too. Part of the district management plan, DFCs are the desired, quantified condition of groundwater resources, such as water levels or spring flows, within a groundwater management area as part of the joint planning process, according to the TWDB.
“I think there’s a little bit of fear that we could have to go through a whole lot of litigation and lawsuits regarding if we were to accept the 2010 DFCs,” Reiter said. “This is the first time I’ve been involved in this, and I’m not sure what the next step is. … This is all new for everyone, so we’re waiting for guidance as well from the [TWDB].”
Reiter said the LSGCD has until July 12 to file the notice of appeal with the TWDB and will then move forward with a more thorough brief.
According to Chapter 36 of the Texas Water Code, if the TWDB decides not to approve the LSGCD’s management plan on appeal, the LSGCD can request the conflict be mediated through a third-party dispute resolution system, such as the Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution at The University of Texas School of Law.
If it is not resolved through mediation, the plan can be appealed to a district court in Travis County for a new trial, according to the code.
Responsibilities for the costs of the trials will be decided by each court, and rules of the LSGCD continue in full force and effect until all appeals have reached final judgement.
Also at the July 9 meeting, the board received a status update regarding two study groups on proposed draft rules.
“The district consultants are still working on draft rules right now, but we’re hoping to start putting those out in August for the first round of public comment,” Reiter said.