Water Worries in Milam and Burleson Counties
By Lauren Stucky Flake
Blue Water Systems LP of Austin plans to transport groundwater from Milam and Burleson Counties to Travis County. According to The Cameron Herald, the company holds groundwater leases on about 75,000 acres, or approximately 7 percent, of the total acreage within Milam and Burleson Counties. Yet Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District, which covers the two counties, has issued production and transport permits to Blue Water Systems for 21 percent of the estimated 149,000 acre-feet per year of available groundwater in the district.
The district’s groundwater users include Blue Water Systems, 31,000 acre-feet per year; Alcoa, 15,000 acre-feet per year; historic use permits besides Alcoa, 20,000 acre-feet per year; municipalities, 10,000 acre-feet per year; and 2,069 registered exempt wells, production unknown. Currently, the district limits production to two acre-feet per year per contiguous acre, but will change its limit if specified drawdown levels are reached.
TLC believes groundwater rights per acre legislation is necessary to prevent districts such as Post Oak Savannah from granting permits greatly exceeding rights per acre owned overlying an aquifer. Blue Water Systems will not only exceed rights per acre, but will also transport the water away from the aquifer so that it will not contribute to the aquifer’s recharge.