Karen Siddall
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In 2008, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) designated large areas from the Red River to Central Texas as “priority groundwater management areas” due to the critical groundwater declines projected to face the area over the next 50 years. This area included Ellis County and 17 other counties that overlaid 2 major underground water formations known as the Trinity and Woodbine aquifers.

As a result, the TCEQ required the counties in these areas to create groundwater conservation districts led by area residents to develop rules and guidance regarding conservation and protection of the aquifers’ resources while meeting the specific needs of the communities involved. If they did not, the TCEQ would create districts for them.

Ellis County which includes Waxahachie, Midlothian, Ennis and numerous other local communities partnered with Hill, Johnson, and Somervell counties to propose the Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District (Prairielands GCD) which was subsequently approved by the Texas legislature in 2009. Since then, the district has conducted scientific research on local aquifers, educated the public about groundwater and conservation issues and registered approximately 1,000 wells. The work of the district is funded entirely through registration fees and water production fees on nonexempt wells. (Domestic wells, agricultural wells and any wells that produce less than 25 gallons per minute are exempt from water production fee rules and well metering.)

Additionally, Prairielands GCD protects property values by preserving the quantity and quality of groundwater for future generations. The district is gathering aquifer level and pumping data in an attempt to better understand how current water use impacts groundwater supplies.

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