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.