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BCRAGD looks at aquifer storage & recovery project

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

In a rare show of unity, the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District (BCRAGD) Board of Directors voted unanimously on an agenda item at a called meeting held at 9 am, Thursday, Feb. 17.
Aquifer Storage
& Recovery
As a result of the vote, Chairman Jim Chastain appointed a four-member committee to look into the feasibility of initiating an Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) project for Bandera County.
Director Gene Wehmeyer of Bandera presented the item. "The district had a study done some years ago by Guyton [LBG-Guyton Associates] that said it was feasible," said Wehmeyer. ASR is a process of pumping surface water from rivers, lakes or rainfall into an aquifer for later use. The City of Kerrville uses ASR to replenish its aquifer.
"The Lower Trinity is a sealed aquifer," added Wehmeyer. "To protect it we have to put water back in."
Director Karen Ripley from the Lakehills area said she would have concerns about the possibilities for pollution of the aquifer. Other members acknowledged pollution as a legitimate concern, but suggested that if an ASR program were started in Bandera County, precautions would have to be taken.
Director Lee Kneupper said the Guyton study presumes "the county's 5,000 acre feet [of water from BexarMet] will be available." The BexarMet Water District controls the rights to water in Medina Lake and the Medina River watershed. In 1997, Bandera County and Springhills Water Management District, a precursor to BCRAGD, signed an agreement with BexarMet for a surface water supply of 5,000 acre feet per year.
Wehmeyer said he was thinking in terms of something much smaller. "We want like 500 acre feet. The committee could research it. I don't want the district to get into the water-selling business."
Jerry Sides of Medina described an ASR project as "rainwater collection on a big scale."
Committee members appointed were Wehmeyer, Sides, Don Sloan and Andy Lautzenheiser.
Water balance ordered
In other business, the board approved a motion to hire LBG-Guyton to complete a water balance study for Bandera County that will be included in the district's annual report.
District General Manager David Jeffery said he didn't think it was a good time to conduct a water balance "since pumping is low."
Ripley and Kneupper suggested it would offer a baseline of drought condition measurements for comparison in wetter years. "It's going to be imperfect, it's based on estimates ... it's a baseline," said Kneupper, "but it's based on the best information we have."
Jeffery acknowledged that doing a water balance across the county "would give you a trend."
Proposed monitor well
The board also discussed the possibility of drilling a monitor well at the Bandera Sports Complex on Highway 16 North. The district maintains monitor wells throughout the county, which are used exclusively to monitor the water levels of the aquifers accessed by the wells.
Sides supported the project, saying, "It's pertinent for a Lower Trinity well to compare to the City of Bandera's wells." The proposed well would be approximately two miles from an existing monitor well within city limits.
"This location would let us know if the cone [of depression] is bigger than we think," said Wehmeyer. A cone of depression occurs in an aquifer when groundwater is pumped from a well.
Kneupper and Ripley urged the board to consider putting a monitor well in another location in the county, since there is already a monitor well in Bandera. "Our population [in the lake area] keeps growing exponentially," said Ripley.
Concurring that more monitor wells are needed in the Medina Lake area, Jeffrey noted, "We need one in the Bumpgate Road area."
Kneupper, reflecting on the cost of wells, suggested the district look at the possibility of monitoring more than one aquifer from one well.
Sides advised "a dual completion well," is a possibility, explaining, to measure water at two different levels, the well would have a two-inch and a four-inch pipe in one borehole.
The board concluded the discussion by asking Jeffery to seek estimates on the costs of dual and single completion wells before taking action on any proposed monitor wells.
In other business, the board
• Heard public comments by Fidel Ramirez, Horst Pallaske and Lee Kneupper
• Accepted the annual audit conducted by Ede & Company, CPA, and presented by Eric Ede
• Accepted a bid for lots totaling 1.033 acres in Avalon Subdivision
• Took no action on Nuisance Investigation #1007, Flying L Guest Ranch to allow the parties to meet for negotiation
• Ordered an election for May 14, 2011 and contracted with the county election officer to administer the election.