Kenedy County Groundwater Conservation District is located in Sarita, TX, covering Kenedy County and portions of Brooks, Hidalgo, Jim Wells, Kleberg, Nueces, and Willacy counties in coastal South Texas.
The district covers the entirety of the legendary, 825,000-acre King Ranch. With rich local roots in cattle and horse breeding, it is no surprise that the primary use of groundwater in Kenedy County GCD is for livestock. The district maintains an excellent relationship with land owners, with many ranchers taking an interest in the water quality and aquifer levels of their groundwater resources. There is also some industrial groundwater use in Kenedy County GCD, primarily for a natural gas plant in Kleberg County. Users in the district consistently pump only about one-fifth of the ~9,200 acre-feet that is allocated by permits.
Brackish Groundwater Rules
While there is currently no brackish groundwater production within Kenedy County GCD, there are two Texas Water Development Board-designated Brackish Groundwater Production Zones (BGPZ) falling within district boundaries – the entirety of the Upper Lagarto BGPZ and about one-third of the Middle Lagarto BGPZ. Potential production of brackish groundwater resources in the district exceeds 35,000 acre-feet annually. The Kenedy County GCD board of directors is currently in the process of creating rules for brackish groundwater production permits. The district is doing this as a result of the passage of House Bill 722 from the 86th Texas Legislature, as well as to ensure the district is best managing groundwater resources at the local level.
Filed by Representative Lyle Larson, House Bill 722 (codified at Chapter 36.1015) provides that a GCD located over any part of a Texas Water Development Board-designated Brackish Groundwater Production Zone (BGPZ) may adopt separate rules to govern the issuance of permits for wells to produce brackish groundwater from that BGPZ. If such a GCD receives a petition from a person with a legally defined interest in groundwater in the district, that GCD must adopt such rules governing the issuance of permits for the withdrawal of brackish groundwater within 180 days.
Working with the district’s hydrologist and attorney, Kenedy County GCD started work on brackish groundwater rules in the summer of 2019. The board will consider a draft of the rules at its next board meeting. When the final draft of the rules is ready, the district will initiate the formal rulemaking process to offer stakeholders the opportunity to comment on the proposed rules.
The supply of fresh groundwater is high and demand is relatively low within Kenedy County GCD, but the district anticipates that brackish groundwater permits may be issued in the future for expansion of municipal water supplies or industrial use. Once the district adopts new brackish groundwater production rules, it will be prepared to manage future groundwater needs.
For more information about Kenedy County GCD, visit http://www.kenedygcd.com/.