Liquid Assets: The State of Texas’ Water Resources
Region J Plan
Plateau Region (J)
Exhibit 28: Map of the Plateau Region (J)
Region J, also known as the Plateau region, is located on the southern edge of the Edwards Plateau and consists of six counties (Exhibit 28). The major cities in the area are Del Rio and Kerrville. The area extends from the Texas – Mexico border eastward through the Texas Hill Country. Portions of the Guadalupe, Nueces, Colorado, San Antonio and Rio Grande River Basins are included in the area. The major industries in the region are tourism, ranching, hunting and government operations associated with Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio.
Strategies Used and Estimated Costs
The Plateau Planning Group recommended 12 water management strategies for the region that can be classified into three general categories: conservation, groundwater and surface water. The strategies recommended in the region have a total capital cost of $14.4 million and would result in an additional 14,869 acre-feet of water supply available by 2060 (Exhibit 29).73
Plateau Region (J) Water Management Strategies
|Description||Capital Costs||Water Gained in Acre-Feet||Average Capital Cost per Acre-Feet|
Note: Four of the region’s conservation strategies do not have any acre-foot cost because they involve crop management and changing irrigation schedules. These strategies can be implemented without any acre-foot cost to water users. Capital cost figures do not include administrative, programmatic or other costs that may be required to implement water management strategies.
Source: Texas Water Development Board.
Eight of the 12 water management strategies in the region deal with conservation efforts in Kerr and Bandera counties and comprise just more than 10 percent, or 1,507 acre-feet, of the additional water needed in the region by 2060. The capital costs associated with these strategies is relatively low, just $3,600, and the region has already begun implementation of these strategies. Specifically, the region is auditing municipal water use in Kerr and Bandera counties to identify wasteful practices. The region is educating the public about wasteful practices and efficient use. In addition, the region is making a concerted effort to conserve water used for irrigation systems through more efficient crop management, time sensitive irrigation schedules and the use of low-pressure sprinkler systems.
Approximately half of the capital costs, $7.7 million, will fund new groundwater wells in Kerr and Bandera counties. These new groundwater wells will provide more than one-third, or 5,672 acre-feet, of the additional water needed in the region by 2060. This strategy is currently being studied, with no plans implement it until at least 2010. The regional planning group is unclear at this point exactly how much groundwater is available in the Edwards-Trinity Aquifer because there are some concerns about the accuracy of the current modeling system used by TWDB to calculate the water resources in the aquifer. In addition, the regional planning group has some concerns about the demographic growth data used for the area. Until the region can more accurately project its future demographic changes, as well as the available groundwater resources in the area, these strategies will be on hold.
More than $6.5 million of the capital costs listed in the region’s plan deal with increasing the City of Kerrville’s water treatment capacity. By doing so, the region will be able to increase the amount of potable water available to the area by 2,240 acre-feet without any additional groundwater or surface water contracts. As part of this strategy, the city of Kerrville plans to increase the amount of water that is treated from 5 million gallons per day to 10 million gallons per day over the course of five years, beginning at the end of 2007. Kerrville initiated the project in November of 2007 and has already expanded the water treatment rate from 5 million gallons per day to 6 million gallons per day.74 However, the region can also foresee the need for additional surface water supplies and has included in its plan a strategy to obtain additional water from the Upper Guadalupe River Authority (UGRA) in 2030, an additional 3,840 acre-feet, and by 2050, an additional 5,450 acre-feet, to meet its future needs75
According to the TWDB, if the strategies listed above are not implemented, residents of Region J stand to lose $6 million in income and 50 full- and part-time jobs by 2010 and nearly $9 million in income and about 70 jobs could be lost by 2060. In addition, state and local governments could lose $140,000 in annual tax revenue by 2010 and about $180,000 by 2060.76
Regional Challenges and Successes
The region needs better groundwater modeling to provide more accurate data to the regional and sub-regional planning groups. Improved groundwater modeling data would not only provide a better picture of how much groundwater is available, it would also provide a better idea of seasonal influxes in water needs due to tourists, hunters and weekend home owners. Many residents are very concerned about the possible export of the region’s groundwater to neighboring regions.77
- 73 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007 (Austin, Texas, January 2007), Volume II, pp. 67-72, www.twdb.state.tx.us/publications/reports/State_Water_Plan/2007/2007StateWaterPlan/CHAPTER%202_REGIONAL%20J_FINAL_112706.pdf. and Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007 (Austin, Texas, January 2007), Volume II, pp. 342, www.twdb.state.tx.us/publications/reports/State_Water_Plan/2007/2007StateWaterPlan/APP%202.1_final%20112906.pdf. (Last visited January 2, 2009.)
- 74 Interview with Charlie Hastings, director of Public Works, City of Kerrville, Kerrville, Texas, November 20, 2008.
- 75 Interview with Johnathan Letz, Kerr County commissioner and chairman of the Plateau Region J Water Planning Group, Kerrville, Texas, November 13, 2008.
- 76 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007, Volume II, p. 251.
- 77 Interview with Johnathan Letz, Kerr County commissioner and chairman of the Plateau Region J Water Planning Group.