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2013-02-28

BCRAGD consider rules changes

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

In a called meeting held Friday, Feb. 15, the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District (BCRAGD) board accepted a recommended proposal for new rules presented by General Manager Dave Mauk. They also set a time and date for a comment period and a public hearing on the proposed changes.
The public hearing will be held Friday, March 15, at the District's offices at 440 FM 3240, Bandera, beginning at 9 am.
The public may submit written questions or comments by fax at 830-796-8262, by email to dmauk@bcragd.org, by hand delivery to the District's offices, or by mail to PO Box 177, Bandera 78003. Written questions or comments should be submitted by Friday, March 8.
The public may also give oral comments at the public hearing.
Anyone with questions should contact the District. The public can also request an emailed copy of the proposed rules changes. Call the District at 830-796-7260. Copies of the proposed changes may also be picked up at the District's office.
Board Chairman Don Sloan told his fellow board members that "when we updated the rules two years ago, we said we would update them regularly."
Among Mauk's recommended changes was a streamlining of the procedures for contested case hearings. He also suggested giving the board more flexibility regarding determining fines following enforcement hearings.
Mauk also asked the board to consider allowing the general manager the authority to deal with permits for small capacity wells, while leaving decisions about larger wells still in the hands of the board.
Mauk said he also clarified the difference between existing wells that need a permit and new wells.
The groundwater export permit, which apparently was excluded in the previous overhaul of the rules, is required by law, so it has been re-inserted. Board member Jerry Sides commented about the rule that allows water from Bandera County to be hauled out of the county. "We can't stop them from doing it, but we can make them pay for it."
Mauk also developed a new policy regarding community shared wells. If there are 15 or more households on a single well, they must form a public water supply. However, Mauk explained, there are often problems with wells with fewer than 15. "Someone moves, and the new owner doesn't want to share the expenses related to the well." The new policy will require such community shared wells to have a well covenant.
The new rules will also allow registration for geo-thermal systems.
Some other proposed changes to the rules are housekeeping procedures to bring the district's rules up to the requirements of Chapter 36 of the state water law.
The public hearing and possible adoption of the proposed changes won't be the final step, advised Mauk. "Next month we start work on our management plan. After we submit that plan to the state and get state approval, we'll have to re-visit the rules again."