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Texas Water News Roundup | August / September 2016

Submitted by Sean Hennigan on Wed, 10/05/2016 - 9:10am

Statewide - An article in the Texas Tribune in August highlights the failure of the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) to track potential oil and gas-related pollution of drinking water in the state. The RRC resolved in 1982 to track disposal of toxic chemicals via Class II injection wells—used to dispose of toxic chemicals related to oil and gas production—in areas with potential sources of drinking water. However, the agency now says that this tracking did not take place, and while it admits to permitting at least “a handful” of injection wells in such areas, it does not have comprehensive information on where drilling may have jeopardized groundwater supplies. The lack of information is particularly troubling at a time when many parts of the state are exploring new sources of water; water planners now face the risk that a new source of water is contaminated, with no way to be sure one way or the other. You can read the full story here.

According to a study published in August, the state of Texas loses nearly a hundred billion gallons of water each year due to leakage and inefficiencies in production and delivery—at a cost of nearly $400 million. The study, conducted by FluksAqua using data obtained from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and the Texas Municipal League (TML), shows an average per capita cost of about $38, though in some communities the cost is well over $200 per capita. Large municipalities—notably Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas—showed the highest water loss, with the state’s three largest cities accounting for over a third of the state’s total losses. You can read more on the story here.

In September, the Texas Groundwater Protection Committee published its annual “Joint Groundwater Monitoring and Contamination Report,” a survey of cases of water contamination across the state. The committee, which includes the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) among other state agencies, found a total of 276 cases of groundwater contamination in 2015. This puts the total number of active contamination cases in the state at approximately 3,400. This year’s contamination rate represents a slight increase over the previous year, but remains far below totals for prior years. Oil and gas exploration accounted for about a fifth of the new cases, while leaks from gasoline or diesel storage were the number one cause of contamination. You can read more on the story here, and find the full report here.

Region H – This month, the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) granted a permit to Houston-based Tri-C Resources to initiate exploratory drilling. While oil exploration in Houston is not exactly newsworthy, the location of Tri-C's well might be: it is sited approximately 3,700 feet from Lake Houston. The well is outside the 1,000-foot limit established by city ordinance in 2011, but some groups have expressed concern over its proximity to a major source of drinking water for the city. Some lawmakers are also concerned that the city's ordinance, designed to protect Lake Houston from potential oil spills or leaks, could run afoul of Texas House Bill 40, a bill passed in 2015 that severely limits the actions municipalities can take to regulate oil exploration within city limits. You can find more on this story here.

H204Texas Coalition Statewide Tour

The H204TEXAS Coalition, a non-profit coalition of stakeholders concerned about the future of water in Texas, is hosting a statewide tour with events in multiple water regions around Texas. Honorary Co-Chairs Sen. Charles Perry and Sen. Jim Keffer write, “The H2O4TEXAS Statewide Tour will bring together local and state leaders, regional water planners, the economic development community, and the network of Texans who work to ensure that we have an ongoing supply of clean, affordable water.”

Starting in February 2016, the H2O4Texas Statewide Tour has held town halls in 7 Water Regions, with two more events scheduled before the end of the year.

On Wednesday, October 19, the Tour will be in Lufkin, Texas for the Region I Town Hall Meeting. Event starts at 1:30 PM, and will be held at Lufkin-Angelina County Chamber of Commerce. Learn more about the event here.

The Region E Town Hall Meeting will be held at the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce from 9 AM to Noon on Wednesday, October 26. Learn more about the event here.

Regional Planning Group Meetings

(D) North East Texas Wednesday, November 2, 2016; 1:00 pm Mount Pleasant Civic Center, 1800 North Jefferson Avenue, Mount Pleasant, Texas.
(H) Region H Wednesday, November 2, 2016; 10:00 am San Jacinto River Authority Administrative Offices,1577 Dam Site Rd., Conroe, Texas.
(J) Plateau

Wednesday, October 19; 10:00 am

Frio Canyon Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, 919 S. US Highway 83, Leakey TX 78873
(K) Lower Colorado Wednesday, October 12, 2016; 10:00 am Dalchau Service Center, 3505 Montopolis Drive, Austin, Tx.
(L) South Central Texas Thursday, November 3, 2016; 9:30 am SAWS Service Center, 2800 US Highway 281 North, San Antonio, Texas.