USGS Releases New Apps for Groundwater Model Visualization, Real-Time Water Data for Lake Houston

A new U.S. Geological Survey groundwater model visualization tool is now available to help users visualize the inputs and outputs of complex groundwater models across the country.

Groundwater models are computer codes that simulate the physics of groundwater motion within an aquifer system. This new web-based mapping tool, called GWWebFlow, allows water managers and the public to visualize complex groundwater models in a more understandable way.

“This web-based platform gives water managers the ability to easily visualize groundwater model inputs and results,” said Jeremy White, USGS scientist and GWWebFlow team lead. “This was not previously possible for those without specific knowledge of and access to groundwater modeling software.”

Read more here.


Real-time water-quality, streamflow and water height information for Lake Houston and the surrounding San Jacinto watershed are now available from a new web application from the U.S. Geological Survey, done in cooperation with the City of Houston.

Lake Houston is the primary drinking-water source for Houston, Texas. Real-time data are required to evaluate the effects of watershed influences, such as land-use change and storm events, on Lake Houston water quality. These data will help water treatment facility operators make informed decisions about adjusting treatment methods in response to changing water-quality conditions.

Real-time measurements are updated hourly and visualizations are accessible from 40 USGS observation stations, which collect a combination of lake, stream, groundwater well, precipitation and water-quality data. The map viewer includes supporting data layers, such as current and forecasted weather conditions and hazard warnings. Users can view seven real-time water-quality observation stations: four located on streams that flow into, and three within, Lake Houston. The continuous water-quality monitoring stations are located in urbanized and rural parts of the watershed and measure various parameters such as turbiditypH and others.

Read more here.

LSGCD discusses water conservation with Lions

"This week Conroe Noon Lions Club had the pleasure of welcoming James Ridgway Jr. who is the Education Public Awareness Coordinator for the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District. James' message is all about the importance of water and the ability to sustain such a valuable resource." Click here to read more.

 Conroe Noon Lions Club President Helen Thornton, right, presents James Ridgway Jr, left, with the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District a coveted club pen after his presentation at the club meeting last week.

Conroe Noon Lions Club President Helen Thornton, right, presents James Ridgway Jr, left, with the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District a coveted club pen after his presentation at the club meeting last week.

Permitting Director promoted to Assistant General Manager

 Samantha Reiter

Samantha Reiter

CONROE, TX - July 11, 2017 - The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District is pleased to announce that Permitting Director Samantha Reiter has accepted an expanded managerial role with the District as its new Assistant General Manager.

"Ms. Reiter has been an LSGCD employee for more than six years. In that time, she has enthusiastically stepped up to the plate to participate in every facet of day-to-day operations," said General Manager Kathy Turner Jones. "She has excelled in all of these areas and we're really looking forward to even more success as she enters the ranks of senior management."

As Assistant General Manager, Ms. Reiter will combine her previous responsibilities as Permitting Director with those of the new role, including various executive management duties essential to day-to-day operations.

"I'm excited to advance my career with the District," Ms. Reiter said. "A lot of meaningful work is accomplished here and I'm glad to be a part of it."

The Assistant General Manager position recently opened following the retirement of the previous Assistant General Manager, Paul R. Nelson.

"With ongoing financial challenges, the District has taken the opportunity to merge these two roles at this time," Ms. Jones said. "Especially given the depth of Ms. Reiter's knowledge base and proven capabilities."

LSGCD Proposes 2018 Water Use Fee Rate Increase for Gulf Coast Aquifer

CONROE, TX - June 9, 2017 - On Tuesday, The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, at a Budget Workshop open to the public, considered factors affecting the establishment of the District's proposed Fiscal Year 2018 water use fee. The District's Budget Committee recommended the 2018 water use fee for groundwater produced from the Chico/Evangeline/ Jasper be set at 11 cents per thousand gallons withdrawn, an increase of 3.5 cents over the current rate of 7.5 cents. No fee increase is proposed for groundwater produced from the Catahoula ($0.06/1000 gallons).

The Committee discussed two major factors that were considered in making its recommendation. One, the committee restated that 2016's 30 percent reduction in withdrawals that occurred as a result of a mandated conversion to alternate water supplies going forward is still being absorbed into the District's budget as the transition continues into its second year. Originally, in previous planning before the conversion, the board identified cash reserves as a supplement to this transition period. However, these cash reserves were more quickly depleted than originally anticipated by the second factor, ongoing litigation.

The Committee emphasized that the ongoing litigation initiated by the City of Conroe, Quadvest, et al., has placed a substantial burden on the District's finances. Those legal fees now exceed $500,000 and are anticipated to continue to mount during the 2018 fiscal year (January 1 thru December 31).

The committee also acknowledged that, should the plaintiffs decide to withdraw their lawsuit or if all parties involved are able to reach an appropriate agreement before this November, when rate notices go out to permittees, the full rate increase would not be necessary in 2018.

On January 1, 2016, the District's Regulatory Plan (DRP) was implemented, requiring each Large Volume Groundwater User (permits holders that are authorized to produce 10 million gallons or more annually) to reduce its permitted use by 30 percent. District water use fees are based on permitted allocation, resulting in a proportional reduction in income in 2016. That decrease in revenue, coupled with the legal fees incurred to date, has resulted in a net loss of $778,621 in 2016. Approximately 64 percent of that net loss is a direct result of ongoing litigation costs with Conroe.

While the District has made significant cuts to its operating budget over the past 18 months and continues to seek ways to reduce expenditures, the combination of the two factors detailed above render it impossible to carry out its legislative mandate to protect the groundwater resources of Montgomery County without an increase in water use fees.

There was no decision made on the fee at the Budget Hearing nor will there be any action taken at the next Regular Board meeting scheduled for June 13. It was the consensus of the members present that additional meetings will be held to continue to discuss proposed rates and the overall budget, and to seek additional input from the public. Should any changes in water use fees be made by the full Board of Directors, they would not go in to affect until January 1, 2018.

The next Budget Workshop is tentatively scheduled for June 28th at the District offices.

State Senate honors Tramm for groundwater leadership, service

 In this March 20, 2017 photo, on behalf of State Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, County Judge Craig Doyal, center, reads Senate Resolution No. 425, honoring Richard J. Tramm, left, for his service to the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District during a recognition reception held at LSGCD’s office in Conroe. Standing to the right is newly elected LSGCD Board President Rick Moffatt.

In this March 20, 2017 photo, on behalf of State Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, County Judge Craig Doyal, center, reads Senate Resolution No. 425, honoring Richard J. Tramm, left, for his service to the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District during a recognition reception held at LSGCD’s office in Conroe. Standing to the right is newly elected LSGCD Board President Rick Moffatt.

CONROE, TX – March 21, 2017 – Friends, family and professional colleagues gathered Monday afternoon to recognize Richard J. Tramm, Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District’s former president and longest-serving board member, for his many years of dedicated service on behalf of Montgomery County.

On behalf of State Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, County Judge Craig Doyal presented a senate resolution commending Tramm “on his outstanding service and commitment” to LSGCD.

“Under his leadership, the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District has consistently worked to balance the needs of large and small volume water users and to promote the long-term viability of Montgomery County’s groundwater supply; he has been a consistent proponent of protecting the rights of all well owners and of using the best available science in managing the county’s water supply,” the resolution read.

Doyal echoed the resolution’s sentiment.

“On behalf of Montgomery County, Richard, thank you for your service to this community. Thank you for your willingness to be here … Thank you for an outstanding job,” Doyal said.

Tramm said it had been his pleasure to serve on the LSGCD board since its inception 16 years ago.

“I can honestly say I felt like I’ve been able to do the best I can, under sometimes difficult circumstances,” Tramm said. “And while I’ve been willing to work with everyone and deal with everyone on a fair and open basis, I also don’t feel like I’ve ever had to compromise my integrity to be able to work with everyone.”

He said he is proud of the work LSGCD has accomplished and knows that it will make a lasting difference.

“Richard’s leadership of the District—from its inception in 2001 through its achievement of long-term viable aquifer management and a diversified water portfolio for Montgomery County in 2016—will leave a lasting legacy amongst his fellow board members, the District staff, and residents throughout Montgomery County,” said LSGCD General Manager Kathy Turner Jones.

Newly elected Board President, Rick Moffatt, acknowledged he has some big shoes to fill.

“Fortunately, Richard has set an excellent example for those of us who follow in his footsteps,” Moffatt said.

Tramm has an extensive background in the drinking water and public utility fields, having held several professional certifications from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and its predecessor agencies, and the Texas Rural Water Association. Following six years of service with the United States Marine Corps, he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Houston in 1994. He has previously worked as the Operations Manager of A-1 Utility and Construction Services, Inc., a locally owned and operated utility contract operations company. Currently, he serves as the general manager of the Porter Special Utility District, the third largest water system in Montgomery County.

Tramm was originally appointed to the position of Director of the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District by the Montgomery County Commissioners Court in 2001, as one of the two countywide representatives. He initially served as President until 2005, when he chose not to seek reelection to that position. During the next several years he also served as Secretary and Vice-President of the Board of Directors, until again being elected as President in 2009. He continued to serve in that capacity until the conclusion of his recently completed fourth term in office.

LSGCD advocates for Groundwater Awareness Week

CONROE, TX – March 6, 2017 – The Apollo 17 crew, from 28,000 miles away, took one of the most iconic photos in history on December 7, 1972. The image is known as “The Blue Marble,” a fitting name considering 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. Yet, about 99 percent of all water on this planet isn’t suitable for human consumption. The remaining one percent comes almost entirely from one source—groundwater.

The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District is one of many organizations around the country recognizing National Groundwater Awareness Week from March 5-11.

“This awareness week, led by the National Groundwater Association, is the perfect time to take a moment and contemplate just how significant our groundwater resources really are,” said James Ridgway, Jr., LSGCD education / public awareness coordinator. “It’s also a great time for parents and educators to engage our younger generations on the subject.”

Ridgway said, according to a report from the American Geosciences Institute, there is a projected shortage of 135,000 geoscientists expected by 2025.

“The water scientists of tomorrow are being cultivated right now.”

Groundwater Basics:

Groundwater is the water that soaks into the soil from rain or other precipitation and moves downward to fill cracks and other openings in beds of rocks and sand. It is, therefore, a renewable resource, although renewal rates vary greatly according to environmental conditions.

Fortunately, groundwater is under most of the Earth’s surface. For instance, there is an estimated 660,000 cubic kilometers of water under the Sahara Desert, twenty times more water than in all of Africa’s Lakes. Groundwater is also the world’s most extracted raw material with withdrawal rates currently in the estimated range of 259 trillion gallons per year, according to NGWA.

About 60 percent of groundwater withdrawn worldwide is used for agriculture; the rest is almost equally divided between the domestic and industrial sectors.

The United States uses 79.3 billion gallons of groundwater a day, according to NGWA. That’s equivalent to about 1.5 million baths, enough bathtubs full of water to circle the Earth more than 60 times

A 2014 report from the U.S. Geological Survey states that, of the total U.S. groundwater supply, public supply accounts for 20.7 percent, individual households account for 4.66 percent, irrigation accounts for 65.1 percent, livestock/aquaculture accounts for 3.97 percent, industrial accounts for 3.82 percent, and mining accounts for 1.47 percent.

NGWA also estimates that groundwater feeds nearly 500 billion gallons of water into U.S. lakes and streams. It’s estimated by the USGS that about 30 percent of U.S. streamflow is from groundwater, although it is higher in some locations and less in others.

Approximately 500,000 new residential wells are constructed annually, according to NGWA estimates. The construction of these vitally needed water supply systems involves the use of more than 18,460 drilling machines by an estimated 8,085 groundwater contracting firms.

A Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey from the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that irrigation accounts for the largest use of groundwater in the United States. Some 53.5 billion gallons of groundwater are used daily for agricultural irrigation from 407,923 wells. In 1900, the United States used only 2.2 billion gallons of groundwater daily for irrigation from 17,000 wells

Texas leads the nation in the number of irrigation wells with 77,389.

In Montgomery County, LSGCD’s most recent permitted pumpage records show that 23.2 billion gallons of groundwater were pumped in 2015.

To learn more about National Groundwater Awareness Week, visit NGWA.org. To learn more about LSGCD, visit LoneStarGCD.org.