Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much groundwater is used in the state?

In 2015, the total reported groundwater usage in the state was approximately 6.95 million acre-feet, and the total reported groundwater usage in all confirmed GCDs was approximately 90 percent of all groundwater used, or about 6.26 million acre-feet (TWDB Estimated Historical Water Use Survey (WUS)).

2. What is a groundwater management plan and what are its required elements?

A groundwater management plan describes a GCD’s groundwater management goals. A groundwater management plan is statutorily required to address the management goals and information listed below (Texas Water Code §36.1071 - §36.1073; 31 Texas Administrative Code 356.10, 356.51-356.54)

Goals:

  • providing the most efficient use of groundwater;
  • controlling and preventing waste of groundwater;
  • controlling and preventing subsidence;
  • addressing conjunctive surface water management issues;
  • addressing natural resource issues that impact the use and availability of groundwater, and which are impacted by the use of groundwater;
  • addressing drought conditions;
  • addressing conservation, recharge enhancement, rainwater harvesting, precipitation enhancement, and brush control, where appropriate and cost-effective; and
  • addressing the desired future conditions established pursuant to the Texas Water Code.

Information:

  • performance standards and management objectives under which the GCD will operate to achieve its management goals;
  • details of how the GCD will manage groundwater supplies in the district, including a methodology by which the GCD will track its progress in achieving its management goals;
  • detailed descriptions of actions, procedures, performance and avoidance that are, or may be necessary, to effect the plan including specifications and proposed rules;
  • estimates of the following:
    • modeled available groundwater (MAG) in the GCD based on the desired future condition (DFC) established under Texas Water Code §36.108;
    • the amount of groundwater being used within the GCD on an annual basis;
    • the annual amount of recharge from precipitation, if any, to the groundwater resources within the GCD;
    • the annual volume of water that discharges from each aquifer in the GCD to springs and surface water bodies;
    • the annual volumes of flow into and out of the GCD within each aquifer and between aquifers in the GCD if a groundwater availability model is present;
    • the projected surface water supply in the GCD according to the most recent state water plan;
    • the projected total demand for water within the GCD according to the most recent state water plan; and
  • consideration of the water supply needs and water management strategies within the county(s) covered by the GCD according to the most recent state water plan.

3. What was the first groundwater management plan to be approved?

The first groundwater management plan to be approved by the TWDB was the Gonzales County UWCD's plan in 1998.

4. Are all GCDs required to develop a groundwater management plan?

Yes. All GCDs are required to develop a groundwater management plan and submit it to the TWDB for approval. A newly created GCD is required to submit its management plan no later than three years after its creation. If a GCD requires a confirmation election after its creation, a management plan should be submitted no later than three years after the confirmation election (Texas Water Code §36.1072 [a-1]).

5. How often are GCDs required to renew their management plan?

A GCD is required to review and readopt its management plan with or without revisions, and submit it to the TWDB for approval, at least once every five years. It can however, review and submit its plan more frequently if it desires (Texas Water Code §36.1072 [e]).

6. If a GCD amends its management plan before the statutory five-year limit, is it required to submit the plan to the TWDB for approval?

If the district proposes to amend its plan for revisions of items other than the MAG or DFC, the district shall submit a written copy of the proposed amendment to TWDB's Executive Administrator so that he may determine whether the amendment requires approval. If the amendment requires approval, it should be submitted to the TWDB within 60 days of being adopted by the district (31 Texas Administrative Code 356.56). Changes in the DFC and/or MAG are changes that require approval.

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7. Who approves a GCD's management plan?

The TWDB Executive Administrator is charged with reviewing and approving a GCD's groundwater management plan as being administratively complete. The TWDB will notify the GCD in writing of its determination (Texas Water Code §36.1072; 31 Texas Administrative Code 356.54).

8. How long does it take TWDB to approve a management plan?

The TWDB is required to make its determination on a management plan within 60 days of receiving all elements of a plan (Texas Water Code §36.1072).

9. What action can a GCD take if the TWDB denies approval of its management plan?

A GCD has two choices: it can revise and resubmit its plan within 180 days of receiving notification from the TWDB, or it can, within 60 days, appeal the executive administrator's decision to the TWDB Board members (Texas Water Code §36.1072; Texas Administrative Code 356.55).

10. Can a GCD get help from the TWDB in the development of its management plan?

Yes. The TWDB can provide technical assistance to a district in the development of its management plan. This consists of at least one preliminary review, if requested, and comment on the plan prior to its adoption by the GCD. If a GCD requests a preliminary review of its draft plan the TWDB can usually provide its comments within 30 days of the date of the request. The TWDB will review management plans in the order in which they are received. A preliminary review is not required but is highly recommended to make the approval process more efficient.

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11. Where can I find more information on the items required in a groundwater management plan for administrative completeness?

A checklist of items required for a management plan to be approved as administratively complete is available here.

12. Is there a rule in Chapter 36 that addresses how transport and production fees can be used? Are the permit fees different from the production and transport fees?

Section 36.205(c) of the Texas Water Code states that a GCD can use the revenues generated by production fees for "any lawful purpose." Section 36.205(g) says transport fees may be assessed pursuant to §36.122. Under Section 36.122, it says, in subsection (l), that a GCD is prohibited from using revenues obtained from the transport fee to prohibit the transfer of groundwater outside of a GCD but is not prohibited from using revenues for paying expenses related to enforcement of Chapter 36 or the GCD’s rules.

13. Does the TWDB have information about the budgets and expenditures for GCDs?

Our agency does not track individual GCD budgets and expenditures except if a GCD applies for a loan or grant with us. Currently, only a few GCDs have loans or grants. Please contact GCDs directly for budget information; these data are sometimes posted on their websites.

14. Who should I contact for more information about groundwater management plans?

The Groundwater Technical Assistance team will be happy to assist you with any questions you have about groundwater management plans. Contact us at 512-936-0817 or 512-463-7317.

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