Commissioners took an important step in establishing a new groundwater conservation district (GCD) during their regular meeting Monday.

They approved a resolution and an interlocal agreement with three other counties to create and to share the costs associated with a GCD.

The costs were divided based on county population: Ellis County will pay 40.16 percent, Johnson County will cover the most at 45.73 percent, Hill County came in at 11.66 percent and Somervell County will pay just 2.45 percent.

“We were on the edge of our seats,” said Commissioner Lloyd Wirt, who was at the meeting with fellow commissioner, James Barnard, when the agreement was drafted.

Somervell County will retain equal representation rights on the board, even though they are the smallest financial supporter.

Both motions were passed by a 3-1 vote, with Commissioner Zach Cummings the only dissenting vote.

In an interview, Cummings said he thought a public hearing should have been held before a decision was made.

“I didn’t feel like three or four commissioners should be putting the county in a water district that we’ll be in from now on,” Cummings said. “We don’t know how they’re going to run that district.”

Once established, the district will be fee-based, meaning commercial users, including the city of Glen Rose, will pay a fee based on the amount of water used.

As part of the agreement, Navarro County has an option to join the district at a later time.

Glen Rose City Council members started preparing for the GCD at their Monday night meeting.

Somervell County Water District (SCWD) General Manager Kevin Taylor gave a progress report and a presentation about the treatment facility. He hoped to convince council members to agree to switch the city’s water supply to the plant all at once instead of phasing in the water.

“One thing we need to determine in the next month or two is how large we want that treatment plant to be,” Taylor said.

The size will depend on what the city decides to do.

If they choose to phase in the water, then the treatment plant will be expanded to accommodate the growing demand, but Taylor thought the best route would be to start out full size.

Bids will be accepted in November 2009 with construction starting in December. Taylor expects the plant to be completed by December 2010 - the same time the county plans on getting the GCD in full swing. If the city can switch from well water to water supplied by SCWD, they would not have to pay any fees to the GCD. But they would still pay SCWD for their water.

Taylor placed estimates at $1.75 to $3.09 per 1,000 gallons.

“We’re still two years away from actually selling the water. Until we actually get into production on this thing, we don’t know,” Taylor said. “There are just estimates. We won’t know what the rate will be until we operate for a year or two.”

The council passed a motion allowing city attorney Andy Lucas to work on drafting a contract with the SCWD attorney.