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Groundwater Issues

Examples From Across Texas - Oliver Ranch and BSR Properties

To help meet the growing water demands of the city of San Antonio, San Antonio Water Systems (SAWS), the city's public water supplier, has purchased the right to pump groundwater from two properties located in northern Bexar County. Both of these properties, Oliver Ranch and BSR Water Supply Company land, are located over the Trinity aquifer.

It is common in this area for a private water supply company to service a local community. However, SAWS is the first to tap the Trinity aquifer to serve a larger public system. The total amount of groundwater SAWS expects to withdraw from both properties combined is approximately 6,200 acre-feet each year. While the water will be mixed into the SAWS distribution network, SAWS expects that it will go primarily to local users.

This past year, SAWS performed aquifer tests to determine how much groundwater could be pumped from the Oliver Ranch property. These tests showed that after one year of pumping, the level of water in the pumping wells would decrease by 100 feet. Even with this decline, SAWS believes that based on the properties of the Trinity aquifer in this area, continued pumping at this rate would not affect nearby landowners or pumpers. While aquifer tests have not been performed at the BSR property yet, SAWS anticipates that it will withdraw approximately 1,500 acre-feet of water from that tract. SAWS began pumping from Oliver Ranch in February 2002 and expects to begin pumping at the BSR property in March 2002.

Public Comments & Concerns
Despite the presumed availability of groundwater in this area, everyone involved agrees that groundwater withdrawals from the properties need to be monitored for sustainability. There is also much local concern that large-scale pumping of the Trinity aquifer will decrease groundwater levels in nearby wells. Another consequence of increased pumping could be decreased recharge to the Edwards aquifer. It is estimated that groundwater flows from the Trinity aquifer account for 10 percent of the recharge of the Edwards aquifer.

Both properties are within the boundaries of the Trinity Glen Rose GCD. This district was created this last legislative session and must be confirmed by popular vote within the next three years. As the temporary directors work to establish district rules, there are concerns as to whether wells that were permitted prior to the creation of the district, such as those on the Oliver Ranch and BSR properties, will be exempt from district rules and regulations. This matter is still subject for debate between the groundwater district representatives and the permit holders.

For More Information
Contact San Antonio Water Systems.

Updated December 2001

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