Water Wells Needed to Help Monitor Groundwater Levels

By Edna Clark

Culberson County Groundwater Conservation District (CCGCD) met for its monthly meeting on Wednesday, April 11 with four of five members present. In attendance were members Vance Cottrell, David Robb, Cruz Parada, and Lane Brewster. Member Cuco Corrales was absent.

Also in attendance was Dr. Al Blair who along with General Manager Summer Webb presented the annual Water Use Report for 2017.

CCGCD approved two Tax Resale Bids: Cause No. 47-10 for $1500 was unanimously approved.

Cause No. 48-67 was denied for $40,000 payment on a $99, 000 Bid in a two for and two against vote.

Cause No. 48-71 was approved for a $5700 Bid with three votes for and one against the bid.

Mrs. Webb advised CCGCD members that an application from Dahjur LP was administratively correct and could proceed to a Public Hearing. This petition is asking for water production for irrigation purposes in the Wildhorse Valley east of Van Horn.

A Public Hearing will be held on June 14, 2018 at 2:00 pm to obtain public input before the application(s) will go before the CCGCD Board of Directors for a vote. The citizens of Van Horn and Culberson County are encouraged to attend this and all meetings and Public Hearings which affect current and future residents of the area.

Dr. Blair and Mrs. Webb presented a power point display to show members the area groundwater levels and usage in Michigan Flats, Wildhorse Valley, and Lobo Valley in 2017.

Groundwater levels in Michigan Flats and Wildhorse Valley were within the Desired Future Conditions (DFCs) adopted by the District showing fairly constant aquifer levels.

Lobo Valley Aquifer, on the other hand, has seen a multi-year decline of water levels which must be further addressed. As of January, 2018, Lobo producers’ water usage allocations were reduced to 3 acre feet in a joint effort to stop the rapid, extensive groundwater dropping.

The CCGCD continues to question why the groundwater level is dropping so rapidly and if the drop is due to over-usage, or a drought, or decreased water coming into the aquifer from water recharge zones. CCGCD, Mrs. Webb, and the Lobo producers are diligently working to find the answers to these questions.

Currently, individual water meters and monitors are used to manually measure the groundwater levels and water usage. Producers throughout the CCGCD area are required to submit monthly water meter readings from individual wells. There is a possibility that a water well might malfunction and the problem might not found until the next manual reading.

Additionally, some of the current meters and monitors are located in isolated, difficult to access, areas. Land or road conditions can prevent the monthly inspections/readings that are vital to determine changes in groundwater levels.

Thankfully, there is new technology in telemetry water meters and monitors that allows for real-time monitoring of water well conditions. As of now, the CCGCD has initially purchased three of the telemetry units without State assistance. Two of the meters have been installed and are providing current data.

If, after this pilot program has been completed and the meters show to be an improved data collection tool, the CCGCD will be able to set up a database on the District website to access real-time meter and monitor readings. In addition to the meters and monitors, the District will be working with residents to set up weather stations that provide accurate, local conditions.

Mrs. Webb related that the District is applying for a matching grant from the Texas Water Development Board for money to purchase telemetry water meters and monitors that will be used to real-time track area water levels. If the grant is received and these units are installed, anyone with internet access will be able to monitor groundwater levels throughout the area.

With this technology, the CCGCD will be better able to monitor groundwater conditions in the Lobo Aquifer, Michigan Flats, and Wildhorse Aquifer, as well as outlying areas that recharge local aquifers. Maybe then, the reasons for the Lobo Aquifer dropping to possible critical levels can be determined and corrected, thereby providing life sustaining water for now and the future.

Mrs. Webb encourages any interested citizens to contact her or CCGCD members for possible placement of telemetry monitors in water wells on their properties. Only long-term, accurate data that can be retrieved from these units can give the answers necessary to maintain live-giving water levels.

Not only large water consumers, but the everyday citizens as well, need to be concerned and proactive with placement of the telemetry meters, monitors, and weather stations as a conservation effort.

Please contact Mrs. Webb at 432-283-1548 or in the CCGCD office located at 1208 W. Broadway in Van Horn for more information on this crucial subject.

The next scheduled monthly meeting for the CCGCD is May 9 at 2:00 pm and as always, meetings are open to the public.


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