Groundwater Management Area Frequently Asked Questions
Below are several frequently asked questions about the Groundwater Management Area process. You can also find additional resources on the Texas Water Development Board's website. You may also want to begin with this primer from the TWDB called "A Streetcar Named Desired Future Conditions," which will outline the basic process.
- I use surface water, why should I care about the GMA process?
Having surface water available for use is often dependent on a groundwater source. If that groundwater source that your surface water relies on is mismanaged, it could impact the amount of water available to you, especially during dry periods. Read more about interconnectivity.
- I'm unhappy with my area's DFC, what can I do?
Under the right conditions you have the opportunity to petition a DFC through the Texas Water Development Board. Read more here.
Additionally, DFCs will be reviewed every five years and can be revised. If you're unhappy, but the petition process isn't the appropriate or desired route, you can work with your GMA to revise its DFC during the next planning cycle. Additionally, you can work with your groundwater conservation district.
- Do I have to participate in the process to petition a DFC?
You do not have to participate in the process in order to file a petition, but there are certain requirements that must be met. A person with a legally defined interest in the GMA, a groundwater conservation district in or adjacent to a GMA, or a Regional Water Planning Group in the GMA may file a petition with the TWDB to appeal the approval of a Desired Future Condition (DFC). A person with a legally defined interest owns land or groundwater right within the GMA, has a legal interest in a well or in the GMA, has authorization from a GCD in the GMA to produce groundwater or otherwise has an interest in groundwater in the GMA as granted by a court order or court judgment.
- How does a DFC relate to a Regional Water Plan?
A DFC is determined by a GMA's member groundwater conservation districts. Once the DFC is approved, the Texas Water Development Board will use the DFC and the appropriate Groundwater Availbility Model to determine the Managed Available Groundwater (MAG) for the aquifer in question.
The Regional Water Planning Groups use the MAG in their planning process. The MAG (as determined by the TWDB) represents the maximum amount of water that is available from that from a particular groundwater source (aquifer).
The RWPG can only use that amount of water in planning, whether it is used to satisfy current needs or for future water demand (the RWPG can, however, choose not to fully utilize that groundwater source).
There is a big opportunity for local stakeholders to have substantial input on both the GMA and RWPG process. Understanding how the two are connected is important. It could mean the difference for future groundwater supplies. This creates an opportunity for locals to have substantial input in whether new development and increasing populations will overuse aquifers.
- My GMA tells me that they can't measure the effects of their DFC on spring flow, but it's very important to me. What should I do?
Talk with them about alternatives. There are creative ways to ascertain the effects to springflow. See the next question and speak to an expert at the TWDB or your local groundwater conservation district.
- Can we evaluate spring flow from with our GAM, even if it isn't calibrated to do so?
Yes, there are ways to derive a good estimate of spring flow even if a model isn't calibrated to do so. For example, if you ran a model with two different DFCs that measure the same element, say aquifer levels, you could look at the relative difference between the two DFCs and have some information relevant to how streamflow might change.
- Should we consider drought conditions in our GAM?
Yes. In Texas, a drought is never far away. And with climate change increasing the amount and intensity of droughts in the foreseeable future, planners need to incorporate drought of record conditions into their model to accurately predict how groundwater pumping will affect an aquifer and its outflows during drought. Though the results of incorporating drought of model often show a very drastically lowered aquifer level during a drought, this is a reality that cannot be ignored. Because incorporating a drought of record into a GAM is an easy request, it is in everyone's best interest to have a full understanding of their aquifer during all conditions. Most models can be calibrated to account for drought contingency plans that reduce the amount of pumping during a drought, so that the model depicts as close to a real scenario as possible.
- We didn't consider drought conditions in our GAM, should we re-run the model?
This is a very important piece of information that should be considered in the development of every DFC. Drought is a part of life in Texas and we need to make sure that we have water supplies for at least basic needs available during drought as well as normal climactic conditions. This is especially true in areas that are already experiencing stress on their groundwater resources.
- Are GMAs required to meet projected water demands with DFCs?
No. A DFC is an opportunity to decide what local users want their aquifer to look like 50 years from now. GMAs are charged with protecting resources as guided by its participating members and the public. Regional Water Planning Groups are responsible for determining how to meet water demands in the future.
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