Click here to read Proposed Rules: 01-08-2019 UTGCD Revised Proposed District Rules for Publication
As most residents of the District are aware, the Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (UTGCD) is proposing several changes to the rules regulating water wells in Hood, Montague, Parker, and Wise Counties, the bulk of which is implementing a permitting system as required by state law.
However, it has come to the attention of District’s Staff and Board of Directors that much of the information going around is not completely accurate, so this is the District’s attempt to clarify what is actually being proposed.
It is worth mentioning up front that the UTGCD has no intention and is not proposing to require meters or permits for private domestic (household) wells or any wells used for agriculture purposes. Any rumors you may have heard to the contrary are 100% false.
The other hot topic of discussion is related to the proposed increase in the minimum tract size requirement, from 2 to 5 acres, for new wells.
The driving factor behind this proposed change is to ensure that water continues to be available to the homes and businesses in our area by promoting more sustainable growth. Currently, a large number of new developments depend on private water wells at each lot as the sole source of water. This has led to more water wells being drilled in the UTGCD than in any other part of the state each year for at least the last decade. Our board meetings each month are filled with homeowners who are experiencing troubles with their water wells because of falling water levels in our aquifers.
The idea behind the proposed change is to help mitigate the impacts of large numbers of water wells clustered together in these types of subdivisions, which can have immediate impacts to the aquifer within the boundaries of the development and regional impacts over a longer period of time.
Furthermore, without infrastructure in place, if at any point in the future the groundwater resources below these subdivision declines, even temporarily, to the point where the water wells have trouble providing for normal household activity, the property values of those homes could be impacted tremendously, and the cost to install public water supply infrastructure after the fact would fall to the homeowners and likely be prohibitive.
Below are some facts regarding the proposed increase in the UTGCD’s minimum tract size requirement:
- The proposed increase to the minimum tract size requirement to 5 acres will not impact properties that already exist and have no access to water from a public water supplier. In other words, if you own a 2 acre tract of land and water from a public water system is not currently physically available on the property or a water main is not located on or adjacent to your property, then the 2 acre tract will always be eligible to drill a new water well.
- If you own a tract of land less than 5 acres with an existing well and your existing well needs to be replaced, the District will approve the drilling of a replacement well.
- The UTGCD is proposing to allow for the subdivision of lots no less than 2 acres in size for family members. In other words, If you own a larger piece of property and wish to split off a tract of land for a family member, the UTGCD is proposing to allow for wells to be drilled on newly configured tracts of land at least 2 acres in size under this scenario.
- For new housing subdivisions where the water supply will be a separate private well on every lot, the UTGCD is allowing until Sept. 1, 2019, for developers to submit preliminary plats with lots at least 2 acres in size to the appropriate platting authority. If you are looking to develop a piece of land, you have until Sept. 1 to submit a preliminary plat to the appropriate platting authority, after which all lots on that plat will be eligible to drill a new well.
- Of course, developers can continue to choose to put in a central public water and sewer system or tie into an existing public system instead of putting a separate private well on each lot, and continue to develop lots of any size as allowed by the particular county or city in which they are located.
- For new subdivisions with wells to be drilled on every lot, the proposed rules outline a process in which the authorization to drill new water wells on lots less than 5 acres, but no less than 2 acres, will be granted if a site-specific groundwater study indicates the proposed subdivision is sustainable. In addition to the site-specific aquifer properties, this process will also take into account outdoor water use restrictions enforceable through homeowners associations or deed restrictions. In other words, if the science proves that an area can support the long-term sustainability of developments of 2-acre lots, based on the groundwater resources in that particular area or enforceable water conservation measures put in place, the UTGCD will allow for the drilling of wells on those tracts of land.
- Finally, to create a smoother transition process and to help offset any potential economic impact, the UTGCD has proposed a 5-year transition period to allow for the authorization to drill wells on lots no less than 3.5 acres in size, if the County Commissioners Court in the county where the tract exists adopts a resolution requesting that the District allow for the drilling of wells on lots that size. This means, the UTGCD would adopt a 5-acre minimum, but if a particular County felt the immediate economic impact would be too great, they could request a transition period to allow for 3.5 acre lots.
The UTGCD will be holding a Public Hearing beginning at 4:00 p.m. on Jan. 28 at the District office located at 1859 West Highway 199, Springtown, Texas 76082. Please do not hesitate to contact District staff at (817) 523-5200, with any questions.