Representative Erin Zwiener Files Bill to Strengthen HTGCD and to Protect Groundwater in Hays County

 The Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District’s (HTGCD) job is to protect the groundwater that you own beneath your property and all the groundwater resources, like Jacob’s Well, that play a vital role in Hays County’s economy. As a local groundwater conservation district with an elected board, HTGCD provides landowners in Hays County with representation and a voice. Unfortunately, since its inception, HTGCD has lacked a consistent and stable source of funding to effectively do its job – to protect your privately- owned groundwater. HB 1304 by Rep. Erin Zwienerprovides HTGCD with a dependable source of funding by allowing HTGCD to collect production fees from non-exempt use wells. HB 1304 does not create a tax or allow HTGCD to request authority to collect property taxes. The bill authorizes HTGCD to only collect production fees from permitted wells – not exempt use wells, such as agricultural wells or domestic wells. HB 1304 will enable HTGCD to diversify its funding sources and will provide the District with a stable source of funding. Currently, the main source of funding for HTGCD is the service connection fee. Should new construction in Hays County slow, HTGCD will lose a vital source of its funding. The bill seeks to address this flaw. Production fees create a natural incentive for permittees to conserve water because fees are assessed on the amount of groundwater produced. 

HB 1304 makes HTGCD similar to other area groundwater conservation districts, like the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District and the Blanco Pedernales Groundwater Conservation District. Both BSEACD and BPGCD have a consistent and secure source of funding which is critical to conducting technical studies, such as groundwater monitoring and modeling to better understand and protect groundwater resources in Hays County. HB 1304 also authorizes HTGCD to adopt stronger water quality standards for well construction similar to the standards set by other Trinity Aquifer groundwater conservation districts, ensuring that groundwater quality in Hays County is protected. HB 1304 will provide HTGCD with tools the District needs to better protect groundwater resources and the property rights of landowners in Hays County as the county faces unprecedented growth and demand on its water supplies.