By Edna Clark
On Wednesday, the Culberson County Groundwater Conservation District (CCGCD) held a Public Hearing on groundwater usage from the Lobo Flat Aquifer.
A room full of Lobo Aquifer stakeholders and three of five CCGCD members were present for the Hearing Pursuant to CCGCD Rule 5.104(f) Groundwater Available for Production from the Lobo Flat Aquifer.
As previously reported, the groundwater level in the Lobo Flat Aquifer has progressively decreased over the last several years. Recharge water that had previously flowed into the aquifer from the Davis Mountains stops in the alluvial plains north of Valentine. Rainfall in the dry West Texas area is now the primary agent for refilling the aquifer.
Steps must be taken to preserve the groundwater now and for generations to come.
General Manager Summer Webb advised the gathering that presently the annual allotment is 5 acre feet/acre and needs to be reduced. Consultant Dr. Al Blair recommended a reduction of the annual allotment to 3 acre feet/acre for three years with annual reviews to determine further action.
Large stakeholder Gary Jackson, who represented other large operations in the Lobo Valley, recommended an annual allocation of 3½ acre feet/acre for a five year period. Lado Ranch representative Lee Lewis stated that the ranch operations were in agreement with Dr. Blair’s recommendations.
Small operations stakeholders concurred with the 3 acre feet/acre allocation; however, they would prefer that the reduction be in effect for two years with a subsequent review. Rancher Tim Head requested an incremental decrease in groundwater production over three years instead of the bulk amount up front. Mr. Head alluded to a Supreme Court ruling concerning other stakeholders tapping into water under his land.
After a congenial Public Hearing, stakeholders and the CCGCD agreed upon implementing groundwater annual allotments of either 3 acre feet/acre over three years or 3½ acre feet/acre over two years. The final decision will be ruled upon during the April CCGCD monthly meeting.
Written commentary for the Public Hearing will remain open until March 21.