Buying, selling and exporting Texas groundwater will be the topic of a May 28 program at the George Bush Presidential Conference Center in College Station. The program will also be telecast to the Texas A&M University Agricultural Research and Extension Center in San Angelo.
The half-day program has two purposes, said Ronald Kaiser, a professor at Texas A&M University, whose specialty is water marketing, law and policy. He is one of the conference organizers and speakers.
The first purpose is to inform landowners about opportunities for selling and leasing the water under their land and how they can protect their interests. Speakers will address what to consider when marketing the water below their property.
The second is to inform groundwater conservation district board members, managers and citizens about regulations governing the exportation of groundwater and the fees that can be charged for water export.
“Buying and leasing water is not a new idea,” Kaiser said.
However, in the last five years, cities have increasingly sought to acquire groundwater from rural areas and move it to growing population centers. It is a hot topic, and, “the water pressure's up,” he said.
The Texas legislature has authorized the establishment of more than 80 local groundwater conservation districts throughout the state and given them the responsibility to regulate pumping and groundwater exportation. A number of the districts are dealing with proposals from landowners, private businesses, river authorities and cities to export water to rapidly-growing urban areas, Kaiser said.
“We want to better inform district managers and citizens about districts' authority to manage water exportation and to charge fees for the water sold to cities.”
Speakers at the conference include a number of experts and attorneys who deal with water issues. Invited speakers and topics are:
Kaiser, a Texas A&M professor and attorney, will discuss the status of groundwater marketing in Texas.
Ned Meister, a representative from the Texas Farm Bureau, will describe a model groundwater lease developed for landowners by his organization.
Russell Johnson, an attorney from San Antonio, will talk about the terms and conditions that water marketers and cities seek in groundwater sales.
Lynn Sherman, president of Water Texas, will talk about private efforts to provide water to cities and about the plans to transfer water from Kinney County to San Antonio.
Sandra Burns, an attorney from Plano, will discuss terms landowners should consider when selling or leasing water.
Doug Caroom, an Austin attorney, will explain the legal authority of groundwater districts to regulate water exportation and the opportunities for public comment in the process.
C.E. Williams, manager of Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District, will talk about how his district handled the T. Boone Pickens' Mesa Water proposal to sell water from Roberts County in the Texas Panhandle to either Dallas, San Antonio or El Paso.
Jace Houston, general counsel for the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District, will discuss the fees districts can impose on water transferred out of the district and how those fees can be used.
Registration for the conference, for both on-site and teleconference participation, is $55. After May 16, the fee goes up to $75.
To register contact Jacque Hand, Texas A&M Special Events Center Operations, P.O. Drawer H1, College Station, Texas 77844, telephone (979) 845-7692. Register online at http://texaswater.tamu.edu
The meeting is part of a three-part Groundwater Conservation District seminar series organized by Kaiser; Bruce Lesikar, associate professor in the department of biological and agricultural engineering at Texas A&M; and Val Silvy, program coordinator at the Texas Water Resources Institute.
The seminars are sponsored by the Texas A&M University System, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts, Office of Rural Community Affairs,Texas Water Resources Institute, Texas Water Development Board, Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, Texas Farm Bureau, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.