by Crystal Gottfried
Comal County Commissioners discussed future water concerns and voter rejection of a groundwater conservation district for the Trinity Aquifer in this county in the wake of Bexar Metropolitan Water District’s lack of water supplies to serve four communities last week.
Discussion by commissioners came after former Bulverde Mayor and Alderman Bob Barton addressed the court last Thursday on what he believes could be an increasing water crisis in the county’s western-most areas.
Barton was prompted to speak to commissioners after the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority said they were putting Bulverde area water distribution projects on hold because the city council rejected the Special Use Permit for a 100-foot water storage tower in Bulverde Estates.
According to a new story in the Herald-Zeitung, Barton said that he retired to Bulverde in 1976 and drilled a well into the Trinity Aquifer to supply water to his newly built home. About three years later, his well went dry.
Barton said that from the experience, he learned that the Trinity Aquifer cannot support the rampant growth in the western part of the county. He warned commissioners that the county is looking at “serious problems, and not very far down the road.”
Population projections from various planning agencies estimate that growth in the section of the county “that sits over the Trinity Aquifer” could increase between 53,000 and 74,000 in the next four years.
Barton said he is worried about that considerable difference in figures and pointed to studies that show the Trinity could support 68,000 residents in Comal County.
He also pointed to the GBRA permit which allows the utility to pump up to 93,000 acre-feet of water, per year, from Canyon Lake, however, current commitments left only 12,000-13,000 acre-feet of water available.
An acre-foot of water is 325,851 gallons or what water planners figure is the amount of water required for a family of four.
Barton said that he did not have the answers to alleviating the situation except for “trying to have larger-sized lots,” since there is no other source of water.
“Perhaps we could urge the legislature to provide a subsidy for all those people who want to put in a rainwater collection system,” he suggested.
Precinct #2 Commissioner Jay Millikin said that he appreciated Barton’s comments and told the court that he knew “we would rue the day we turned down” efforts to create and confirm a groundwater conservation district for the Trinity Aquifer in Comal County.
This is the only county in the watershed between here and Victoria without a water district. Voters rejected the measure in both 1995 and 2001.
According to Millikin, the ongoing drought conditions may warrant bringing up the issue once more.
“I think we need to make a stronger impression on the public abut how poor a decision that was in 2001,” he said. “We need to covet this resource and protect it.”