2018 marked 30 years since the Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts (TAGD) was founded. In 1988, a group of 14 Groundwater Conservation Districts (GCDs) joined together with the objective of creating an organization that would serve as a resource to both GCDs and the public on groundwater issues. 30 years later, TAGD now represents 86 GCDs and over 40 associate members.
For 30 years, TAGD’s mission has been to help members stay current on groundwater policy, science and management. It was established as a 501(c)(3) with the objective of becoming a lead water conservation organization in the State and providing educational support to GCDs. One of TAGD’s founding members, Allan Lange of the Lipan-Kickapoo Water Conservation District, envisioned TAGD as source of information to the public and policy makers on groundwater conservation measures. In its early days, those 14 founding members would meet in various locations across the state, and discuss how to support GCD operations.
Over the decades, TAGD has attempted to keep its members, stakeholders, legislators, and interested members of the public informed on groundwater issues. For the first 17 years, TAGD was entirely run and organized by its volunteer members. Over the years, and through the leadership of three Executive Directors, TAGD’s offerings have expanded.
Under the leadership of TAGD’s first Executive Director, Greg Ellis, the Alliance established educational opportunities for GCD staff and board members. Under the leadership of TAGD’s second Executive Director, Stacey Steinbach, TAGD grew to be able to provide additional educational tools, a publicly accessible database, the GCD Index, and the establishment of an annual Texas Groundwater Summit. Under Executive Director Sarah Schlessinger, TAGD has continued to grow its offerings, establishing additional technical trainings, a communications platform, and facilitating opportunities for increased collaboration and cooperation.
When reflecting on the value TAGD offers, President Dirk Aaron highlighted TAGD’s ability to give the districts a unified voice on pressing groundwater issues. “The value of the Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts today, after 30 years, has met and exceeded the original expectations of our founding members. Each of those leaders wanted TAGD to be an advocate for our diverse membership, balancing the responsibility of protecting our shared resource while embracing the history of a state that values property rights.”
As TAGD looks to the next 30 years, it will focus on continuing to expand its educational offerings, supporting GCDs as they evolve to meet more complex requirements and providing a platform for districts to share best management practices. TAGD was founded by 14 dedicated districts, built by an engaged membership working to unify the GCD voice, and will grow its legacy of continuing to support effective groundwater management in Texas.