Proposed $120K study would look at groundwater, subsidence

Image description
The Woodlands Water Agency, which oversees 10 municipal utility districts in The Woodlands, and the Houston Advanced Research Center have joined forces to potentially create a scientific advisory committee that could analyze data and studies about the complex issues of groundwater and subsidence.

Jim Stinson, The Woodlands Water Agency general manager, said an impartial scientific opinion is needed to provide guidance on the topics and to help interpret the issues, which are steeped in scientific language and technical jargon, for the community.

“The issues with groundwater and fault movement and subsidence have been an ongoing concern for a number of years, and [I am pleased to have] HARC as a resource to check the technical, scientific data and convert it into something our community can understand and make policy decisions on,” Stinson said.

HARC, a nonprofit research organization, was founded in 1982 by The Woodlands founder George Mitchell and is located on Gosling Road.

Stinson, along with Stephanie Glenn, who heads the HARC water and hydrology program, approached The Woodlands Township board of directors at its Jan. 22 meeting for support of the project. Although the board did not immediately pledge financial support, members expressed interest in the initiative and invited Stinson back to the board’s future meetings for further discussion.


“We’re not looking for a funding commitment, but [we are] looking for partners,” Stinson said at the meeting. The amount that would be needed to fund a 12-month program would be $120,000, which could be borne through various means such as contributions from partners, he said.

Stinson said in mid-February two MUDs had signed on to support the program, and the next step would be to develop a funding recommendation to present to the board for consideration.Groundwater and subsidence have been a topic of discussion in Montgomery County because a surface water treatment plant was brought online at Lake Conroe in 2016 to help reduce the amount of groundwater drawn from aquifers in the area, Stinson said. Excessive groundwater withdrawals from aquifers—underground supplies of fresh water—have been associated with subsidence, in which land sinks, he said. Fault line activity has also been associated with subsidence, Stinson said.

For residents of The Woodlands area, shifting from a system exclusively supplied by groundwater to one that includes surface water in an attempt to reduce subsidence has been costly. The surface water treatment plant cost $500 million to build, according to Jace Houston, general manager for the San Jacinto River Authority, which operates the facility and sets the local water rates.

SJRA rates increased Sept. 1 for fiscal year 2019-20 to $2.73 per 1,000 gallons for groundwater and $3.15 per 1,000 gallons for surface water. The previous rates were $2.64 and $2.83 per 1,000 gallons, respectively.

Bruce Rieser, vice chair of The Woodlands Township board of directors, who also serves on the township’s drainage task force, said he supported the scientific review of the topics because of their importance to The Woodlands.

“I’ve never seen scientific evidence be as poles apart as they seem to be on this particular issue,” Rieser said. “After spending a lot of time around water issues, period, I think it’s really important for us to get an impartial, scientific review of what’s going on.”
By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.


MOST RECENT

The First Street Foundation's dataset includes a forecast models that anticipate the effects of climate change and sea level rise. (Screenshot via First Street Foundation)
Analysis: FEMA may be undercounting national total flood risk by as much as 70%

The new dataset includes an interactive Flood Factor dashboard that anyone can use to assess the risk of flooding over a 30-year period for any address.

The city of Houston reported the 14-day moving average for testing positivity was at 24.8% as of June 28, up from 15.4% on June 1. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 1,249 cases, three deaths confirmed July 2

The city of Houston reported the 14-day moving average for testing positivity was at 24.8% as of June 28, up from 15.4% on June 1.

Registration for the voucher program is now available by phone or online. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Montgomery County COVID-19 testing voucher program registration now available online

Residents may be approved for free testing vouchers after completing an informational form through the county health or hospital district websites.

Houston fireworks display
Here’s how to celebrate Fourth of July across the Greater Houston area

Several Houston-area cities are still planning fireworks shows with drive-in or virtual components this Fourth of July.

The laboratory is located in a business park in Oak Ridge North. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)
Conroe-based company made unusable COVID-19 test supplies using $10-million FEMA grant

About one month after receiving the grant, the company ceased production, leaving behind millions of unusable products and little trace of the company’s existence.

Gov. Greg Abbott
Gov. Greg Abbott: Texans must wear masks in public starting July 3

"COVID-19 is not going away," Gov. Abbott said. "In fact, it is getting worse."

The Kemah Boardwalk will be open Fourth of July weekend. (Courtesy Kemah Boardwalk)
3 Houston-area amusement properties will be open Fourth of July weekend

The Kemah Boardwalk, Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier and Downtown Aquarium Houston are offering a joint weekend adventure pass for $29.99.

When interest rates are low, homeowners may look to save money by refinancing, which means getting a new mortgage with a better term or interest rate to lower payments. (Source: Matt Frankel/Community Impact Newspaper)
'Refinancing isn't free:' How to navigate refinancing a mortgage

When interest rates are low, homeowners may look to save money by refinancing, which means getting a new mortgage with a better term or interest rate to lower payments.

Episcopal Health Foundation
Survey: Texans support emphasis on improving economy, safety, pollution to address overall health

“COVID-19 is clearly showing what Texans already know: the state needs to address underlying, non-medical conditions that have a dramatic impact on their health,” Episcopal Health Foundation President and CEO Elena Marks said.

Houston-based Christian Brothers Automotive operates more than 200 locations across the United States. (Courtesy Christian Brothers Automotive)
Q&A: Christian Brothers Automotive CEO talks commercial real estate, essential business operations amid pandemic

The Houston-based automotive company has franchise locations throughout Texas, Georgia, Tennessee and Arizona.

Students in The Woodlands have donated over 10,000 pounds of food to the Montgomery County Food Bank. (Courtesy The Food Drive Initiative)
Student-led Food Drive Initiative donates 10,000 pounds of food to Montgomery County Food Bank

A local student-led nonprofit has been hosting food drives and donation campaigns to help the Montgomery County Food Bank.