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BCRAGD adopts river authority rules

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

The board of the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District (BCRAGD) voted unanimously to adopt rules authorized by Texas Water Code to act as a river authority to protect the county's surface water. The vote was taken at the district's first quarter regular meeting held Thursday, Jan. 9.
General Manager Dave Mauk said this is the first time since the river authority was founded in 1997 that it has actually adopted the rules necessary to enforce violations affecting the quality of surface water here.
The new rules, authorized by Texas Water Code Chapter 51, have provisions regarding unauthorized discharges into "any surface or ground water, any natural water course, or aquifer recharge zone in the county that causes or threatens to cause water pollution unless the waste or pollutant is discharged in strict compliance with all required permits or with a valid and currently effective order issued or rule adopted by the appropriate regulatory agency."
Persons who are found responsible for spills of hazardous materials will be held liable "for the payment of all costs incurred by the District, and/or the other departments and agencies which assist it, to abate such an event."
The rules allow district employees and agents to conduct investigations into possible violations as needed.
The rules allow for both criminal and civil penalties for violations. "A person who violates a regulation adopted by a district under this chapter or other law commits an offense... a Class C misdemeanor." Fines for criminal violations can be a minimum of $200 to a maximum of $2,000. "Each violation ...shall constitute a separate offense, and each day an offense continues shall be considered a new violation for purposes of enforcing this division."
Mauk said the new rules will give the BCRAGD some enforcement powers. "If we run into a problem [with spills or dumping], we can do something about it, without having to wait on state agencies to act."
Noting that BCRAGD has always been active as a groundwater district, "this is a move to protect our surface water."
For a full copy of the new rules, contact the BCRAGD at 830-796-7260. See BCRAGD public notice on page 5A.
Directors Jerry Sides, Don Kruckemeyer, and Bob Williams were not present for the meeting.