Aquifer in Lobo Valley continues to decline

By Edna Clark

Culberson County Groundwater Conservation District (CCGCD) Directors met yesterday with all Directors present. Directors are Vance Cottrell, Lane Brewster, Cruz Parada, Lacey Koehn, and David Robb. Also, in attendance were General Manager Summer Webb and Legal Counsel Steve Mitchell.

Mrs. Webb advised Directors that the Lobo Valley Aquifer water metering system is ongoing with manual and digital results showing consistent readings. The wells that are being monitored are located in the heart of the Valley.

Water consumers that are located on the outer boundaries of the Lobo Aquifer are encouraged to contact Mrs. Webb at 432-283-1548 for possible placement of new water meters. The meters are installed at no extra cost to consumers but are invaluable to responsible water conservation for the future. They are vital to assess underground water levels accurately.

Cellular phone service issues plague the metering due to limited phone coverage. Mrs. Webb and Directors are exploring other options for better reporting from the water meters. High West Texas winds damaged a meter antenna which was replaced.

Directors learned that the 2018 CCGCD Appraisal Value was listed as $327,478.10 and that tax collection rate was 94%. Effective and Rollback Tax Rates for 2018 Property Taxes was agreed upon at $219,000.

A Special Called Meeting will be held on Monday, August 20, 2018, at 9:00 a.m. for a Public Hearing to discuss the 2018 Budget and Tax Rollback recommendations.

Mrs. Webb presented recommendations for the 2018 Budget Workshop. Due to her diligence with CCGCD finances, several areas of financial saving were noted while allowing for pay increases to District employees and legal counsel.

Legal Counsel Steve Mitchell addressed Directors on current procedures for private sales of struck-off properties that have been seized for nonpayment of taxes. According to Mitchell, there are discrepancies in previous sales which he is addressing with El Paso attorneys. For this reason, he recommended that Directors postpone any upcoming sales until the situation is reviewed and a final legal decision is reached.

Mrs. Webb reported that there continues to be significant groundwater level dropping in the Lobo Valley Aquifer. According to some well measurements, groundwater levels have decreased at least 3 feet over the last year. Currently, Lobo consumers are restricted to 9-acre-feet of groundwater usage over a three-year period when reliable meter data will be reviewed for possible changes. To obtain that data, Lobo Valley consumers are encouraged to allow their water wells to be metered for exact groundwater levels.

Michigan Flats and Wild Horse Aquifers remain at consistent levels and are of lesser concern than Lobo Valley.