Montgomery County’s groundwater problem didn’t develop overnight, and neither did the proposed solutions. Many different individuals and organizations have been involved in studying the problem and developing solutions from the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (whose job is to study and manage the county’s underground aquifers) to the 200-plus individual water utilities who must each find a solution to reduce their groundwater usage. The SJRA developed its joint Groundwater Reduction Plan (GRP) to be a regional solution that would be open to any and all utilities in the county.
Groundwater Reduction Plan
The Groundwater Reduction Plan (GRP) is SJRA’s solution to Montgomery County’s groundwater problem. Rapid population growth and the resulting increase in water demand has overwhelmed the county’s groundwater supply. In order to meet the requirements for groundwater reduction mandated by the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD), the SJRA has taken on the task of implementing the most cost-effective and reliable solution for decreasing groundwater withdrawals. Most importantly, participation in the SJRA’s GRP was offered as a solution to all large water suppliers in the county, and over 130 different water utilities joined the plan, representing 80 percent of the water use in Montgomery County. With this commitment, the GRP truly became a countywide, collaborative solution to the groundwater problem.
As of January 1, 2016, which is the LSGCD’s mandated deadline for reducing groundwater withdrawals, the GRP will allow Montgomery County to reduce its dependence on groundwater by developing reliable, long-term alternative water supplies for the future. This includes drawing upon a sustainable resource – surface water from Lake Conroe – to create a more balanced approach to supplying the water needs of the entire county. The GRP will also develop a diverse portfolio of other water supply strategies, including reuse of treated wastewater effluent, water conservation and untapped groundwater from the Catahoula Aquifer. The SJRA is not only creating lasting water solutions for future generations, but it is also ensuring that Montgomery County’s economic engine has a plentiful supply of water to fuel its continued growth.
Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District
When Montgomery County’s groundwater problem first became apparent, community leaders and elected officials petitioned the Texas Legislature to create a groundwater conservation district. The result was the creation of the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD) in Montgomery County in 2001.
The purpose of the LSGCD is to study and manage the groundwater resources in Montgomery County and force a solution to the problem of declining groundwater supplies by regulating groundwater use. Studies conducted by the LSGCD confirmed the reports of many water suppliers – water levels in the county’s aquifers were declining at an alarming rate. Additionally, results of computer modeling of future groundwater supplies showed that without a major reduction in groundwater use, water levels would continue to decline and eventually spread to other parts of Montgomery County where water levels had previously been unaffected. The LSGCD continues to work with all of its permittees and stakeholders to ensure a sustainable, cost-effective water supply is available for current and future needs.
To read more about the LSGCD, please visit: www.lonestargcd.org.
San Jacinto River Authority
Created by the Texas Legislature in 1937 (Article 8280-121, as amended), the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) is a government agency whose mission is to develop, conserve and protect the water resources of the San Jacinto River basin. Covering all or part of seven counties, the organization’s jurisdiction includes the entire San Jacinto River watershed, excluding Harris County. The SJRA is one of 10 major river authorities in the State of Texas, and like other river authorities, its primary purpose is to implement long-term, regional projects related to water supply and wastewater treatment.
As a governmental entity, the SJRA does not operate on a profit-oriented basis, and like its other programs, the GRP is intended to operate on a cost-neutral basis. As a steward of the water resources developed for Montgomery County over the past 50-plus years, the SJRA feels an obligation to the citizens of the county to make available the most cost-effective solution to the impending groundwater crisis. By leveraging its existing water supplies and working with others to develop new water supply strategies, the SJRA believes it can offer the best and cheapest solution to the county’s groundwater problem.
To read more about the SJRA, please visit: www.sjra.net.