Board Rejects TCEQ Order For Briscoe County Annexation

Board Rejects TCEQ Order For Briscoe County Annexation. During their March 13 regular meeting, the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD) Board of Directors unanimously rejected an order from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) recommending annexation of the western portion of Briscoe County into the district. The five-member board made its decision after receiving comments at a public hearing earlier in the day. “We believe in local control. The Board of Directors listened to Briscoe County residents and honored their wishes not to be annexed into the water conservation district,” said HPWD President Lynn Tate of Amarillo. TCEQ designated the Briscoe, Hale, and Swisher County Priority Groundwater Management Area (PGMA) in 1990. Since then, the portions of Hale and Swisher Counties in the PGMA were added to the HPWD.  The western portion of Briscoe County is the only remaining portion of the PGMA not within a groundwater conservation district. As a result, residents in the area had the option of creating their own district or joining the HPWD as recommended by the TCEQ. Several landowners believe that the TCEQ’s recommendation would lead to unnecessary government oversight and could threaten private property rights. In other business, the HPWD Board of Directors approved proposed amendments to HPWD Water Well Registration Rule 4.1(e) and 4.2 (b). The amendments take effect immediately. The revision deletes the word, “shall,” in Well Registration Rule 4.1 (e) and replaces it with the word, “may.” In addition, the existing sentence in Well Registration Rule 4.2 (b) was deleted and replaced with “A new well exempt from permitting may be registered with the district.” Tate said these rule amendments are another step in the right direction to protect private property rights. “Landowners now have the option to register their wells in order to receive protection under the district’s water well spacing requirements. The HPWD Board of Directors is committed to protecting landowners’ private property rights,” he said. (Press release from High Plains Underground Water Conservation District)

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