Officials discuss sources for central Texas water supply

Assistant News Editor

The Hays County Commissioners Court called a special meeting Monday to discuss water issues and future plans for using groundwater to supplement the needs of Central Texas.

Commissioners discussed “water issues and water policy” with representatives from Williamson County and Travis County, said Laureen Chernow, Hays County communications specialist. Chernow said it was a preliminary discussion and the same group will meet again in two weeks for further talks. No decision was made on any plans at this time.

“That group of people met and talked about some of the issues that are facing our counties regarding a lack of water and what, if anything, could be done as a group to facilitate acquiring water and transporting water to the places that need it,” Chernow said.

Since the water situation in Central Texas is “not getting any better any time soon,” the discussion was held to “plan for the future,” Chernow said.

The special meeting was in regards to an initiative Hays County began Oct. 1 to create terms for a contract with the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District, said Commissioner Ray Whisenant, Precinct 4. Under the contract, Hays County would receive water from the Simsboro section of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer.

Representatives from the Lone Star Regional Water Authority, which acts as a legal entity and serves as a financing mechanism for water-related infrastructure projects, were in attendance, Chernow said.
Representatives from Pflugerville, Leander and Dripping Springs were also at the meeting, Whisenant said.

“It was a meeting about the reservation and the need for additional water in Central Texas, not just Hays County,” Whisenant said. “The subject is groundwater being a link that provides some conjunctive usability that we don’t have from groundwater here in Hays County, more particularly.”

Whisenant said the water discussed would be coming from Lee County, which was not represented at the meeting today. He said they hope to have representatives from Lee County attend the following meeting in two weeks.
The majority of the meeting today was an exchange of information, Whisenant said.

“In terms of terms, the only terms that actually exist right now are the terms between Hays County and Forestar (a real estate company), between sponsoring entities and the Lone Star Regional Water Authority,” Whisenant said.

Hays County has a water-reservation supply agreement with Forestar USA Real Estate Group Inc. in which the county agreed to pay $1 million per year for the next five years in exchange for the water, according to a Sept. 29 Austin American-Statesman article.

Chernow said the discussion on water that began Monday could last for several meetings and may not be decided quickly.

“This is something that’s going to take some thinking on all the entities involved, and they’ll have to get back together to talk some more,” Chernow said.

Whisenant said the commissioners hope that Lee County and Bastrop County will be represented April 14 at the next meeting.