Comal Trinity GCD
Published February 21, 2023 by Julia Stanford
Grab a glass of water and say “Prost!” Known for its rich German heritage, Comal County is a Hill Country gem that millions of people flock to every year to drink beer at New Braunfels’ annual Wurstfest celebration, tube the Comal or Guadalupe rivers, or splash around at Schlitterbahn or Canyon Lake. It’s clear that water is a big deal here.
Comal Trinity GCD is one of the newest districts, created in 2015 by HB 2407 of the 84th Texas Legislature to manage groundwater resources in Comal County – but not all of them. It’s worth mentioning that this district’s jurisdiction is nuanced. Edwards Aquifer Authority overlaps about half the county and manages all permitting and withdrawals from the Edwards Aquifer. Comal Trinity GCD manages activity in the Trinity Aquifer, a separate aquifer that underlies the Edwards. The district covers all of the Comal County except for a small portion of the Fair Oaks Ranch subdivision that is within the neighboring Trinity Glen Rose GCD. Additionally, the western half of the Comal County is part of the Hill Country Priority Groundwater Management Area that was defined by TCEQ in 1990 as an area experiencing or expected to experience water quality or quantity issues in the next 50 years.
With over 50 years of experience as a well pump installer, General Manager H.L. Saur offers a wealth of working knowledge to the district and its stakeholders. This familiarity allows him to better understand and communicate groundwater issues to the public. He also came to the district with existing relationships in the local well-drilling industry that would take any other manager years to match. H.L. uses these skills on a daily basis as he works to administer and enforce the district’s strong groundwater protection program.
Comal Trinity GCD protects the Trinity Aquifer from contamination and prevents well interference by requiring stricter standards for well construction than the state requires. These rules were implemented with input from local drillers. All wells drilled within Comal Trinity GCD are required to be cemented 100 feet above the water bearing formation chosen for water withdrawal, as well as 100 below the land surface, should that much annular area remain. The district also requires the cement to fill a larger annular space – instead of the 3 inches mandated by the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation’s well drilling rules, Comal Trinity requires a 4-inch space. This extra inch allows for a better chance of getting a proper well seal. Among other casing rules that help to protect groundwater quality, the district also makes well maintenance easier by requiring a larger inner diameter of at least 4.5 inches (the TDLR standard is 4 inches). H.L. Saur shared a story of an attempt to pull a pump from a well that was drilled before the district existed. Since a submersible pump is about 3.7 inches, that leaves only a small amount of “wiggle room” in a standard 4-inch casing. Since the steel casing had rusted over time, the rust protruded on the inside of the casing and they were unable to pull the pump up. An extra half-inch could have made all the difference in that case!
With stringent well construction rules, you may wonder how the district tracks compliance. That’s where those valuable industry relationships come in. For nearly every well drilled in the district, H.L. or a District representative is onsite at least three times to supervise construction – before drilling to confirm the well location, one or more times during drilling to check in on the casing and cementing process, and then again at the end of drilling to make sure the cement has not settled. This hands-on approach ensures that the district rules are being followed and everyone in the community is playing their part in protecting their groundwater resources.
Adapting to Growth
Rampant growth is undoubtedly the biggest challenge faced by Comal Trinity GCD. In the last census, Comal County was the second fastest-growing county in the entire nation, with nearly 50% growth from 2010-2020. The district’s mission is to maintain the Hill Country way of life by conserving, protecting, and preserving Trinity groundwater resources. Comal Trinity GCD must manage accordingly as it is experiencing a surge in well applications and greater demands on groundwater.
We all know that the best and cheapest water supply is the water you don’t use. Comal Trinity GCD hosts a wealth of conservation information on the district website, ranging from directions to calculate your “water footprint” to tips for landscaping in a drought. The district really shines in its promotion of rainwater harvesting. In addition to providing rain barrel building instructions and several comprehensive publications, Comal Trinity GCD has also partnered with the local Master Gardeners chapter to offer free rainwater harvesting consultations. Anyone in the district can request assistance in designing their own rain catchment system, courtesy of board member Dr. Larry Sunn. Furthermore, Dr. Sunn offers rainwater harvesting and aquifer awareness presentations throughout the area, educating audiences at events such as HOA meetings, civic/social gatherings, neighboring Master Gardener classes, community festivals, and more.
Three of the seven Comal Trinity GCD board members are named Larry:
President Larry Hull, Secretary Larry Sunn, and Precinct 3 Director Larry Jackson
Guided by knowledgeable board and staff members, Comal Trinity GCD will continue to work to conserve, protect, and preserve the Trinity Aquifer in Comal County. Learn more about the district by visiting https://www.comaltrinitygcd.com/ or calling 830-885-2130.