Prairielands GCD board adopts amendments to district rules

Special to the Reporter

The Board of Directors for the Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District held a public hearing on Dec. 20, 2021, to adopt amendments to the district rules regulating water wells within the boundaries of the district, including Ellis, Hill, Johnson and Somervell counties. The adopted amendments to the District Rules went into effect Jan. 1, 2022, according to a news release from the district.

Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District

Over the months leading up to the meeting, district staff and directors worked diligently to identify needed rules improvements in the course of implementing the district rules that were adopted on Dec. 17, 2018, and previously amended on Oct. 21, 2019, and Nov. 16, 2020. The Board’s Rules and Bylaws Committee worked to develop recommended amendments to the district rules to address such improvements, the release states.

Publication of the proposed amendments to the district rules were made available to the public on Nov. 30, 2021, and a public notice of a hearing on the consideration of adopting the amended rules was published in newspapers across the four-county district no less than 20 days prior to the public hearing. At the public hearing, which was held in person at the meeting room inside the district office in Cleburne, the board considered any oral and written comments from the public on the proposed amendments to the district rules, and after taking up and considering the proposed amendments to the district rules, the board adopted the amendments as presented.

The adopted amendments to the district rules included requiring any well equipped with a variable frequency drive capable of being set in a manner that would allow the well to operate at a production capacity higher than authorized by the district to be equipped with a flow restrictor that mechanically restricts the production capacity of the well at the wellhead to the authorized amount. 

The deadline to drill, equip, complete, or substantially alter a well increased from 120 days to 180 days from the date of approval of the well registration or permit. The amendments also allow semiannual meter reading and water production reporting for small well owners that are not public water systems and that produce no more than 10 million gallons annually, as well as eliminated the use of a geographic weighted centroid to calculate the minimum spacing distances from property lines and from existing wells and allows the general manager to approve exceptions to the minimum well spacing requirements in certain instances.

Additionally, the amendments establish minimum spacing requirements between new small-capacity wells and existing wells and clarify spacing requirements for new large-capacity wells from existing wells on the same property and increase the required minimum tract size for a single domestic well serving two or more households.

Other amendments included establishing certain requirements for pump installers and well owners relating to equipping a well and clarifying requirements regarding well screening and completion based on the information provided in the approved application for a registration or permit. The amendments also clarify the calculation of contiguous controlled acreage for Operating Permits for retail public utilities based on the type of certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) held by the retail public utility and amends the provisions in the District Rules relating to compliance orders.

The amendments also establish a minimum threshold and other limitations for eligibility for the monthly water use fee payment option, amended the general manager’s authority to enter into settlements for rules violations, establishes permitting requirements and increased fees for average system water loss by public water systems above certain percentages to prevent waste and promote water conservation, any temporary transitional rules provisions that have expired were eliminated, and other non-substantive clarifying and conforming changes. 

The adopted amendments to the district rules are necessary to support the district’s efforts in managing the groundwater resources within the boundaries of the district. Information about the public hearing and copies of the amended district rules are available on the district’s website at www.prairielandsgcd.org, and physical copies can be obtained by visiting the district office at 208 Kimberly Drive, Cleburne.