Groundwater Conservation Districts
Groundwater Conservation Districts (GCD) have been Texas’ preferred management tool for groundwater resources since the 1950’s, although the number of districts has grown over time. GCDs have the authority to regulate spacing and production of wells to ensure the availability of groundwater within the district’s boundaries, and, within certain limits, they can deny a permit to withdraw groundwater based on the effect it may have on aquifer conditions. The districts can require a permit amendment and charge a fee for the exportation of water, but they cannot deny a permit based on the groundwater’s destination nor can they adopt rules to limit exports.
At present, GCDs can only regulate large groundwater withdrawals. Withdrawals under 25,000 gallons a day from a well located on 10 acres or more generally remain exempt. The recent explosion of exempt wells, particularly in the Hill Country, has heightened concern about the potential impact on local aquifers.
As of April 2013, there were 99 groundwater districts in Texas covering all or part of 144 counties. Many areas of the state are not included within groundwater district boundaries and therefore have no groundwater management, including some high growth areas of the state, such as southwestern Travis County and Western Comal County. The Texas Water Development Board website provides a downloadable map of Texas groundwater districts.