FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 02/21/2017
Representatives Bell, Metcalf, and Keough File Legislation to Bring Transparency and Accountability to the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District
AUSTIN – On February 16, 2017 State Representative Will Metcalf (R- Conroe) filed House Bill 1982 that changes the structure and method of selection for the Board of Directors of the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District. The bill has been joint authored by Representative Cecil Bell, Jr. (Magnolia) and Representative Mark Keough (The Woodlands).
The current board consists of all appointed members as follows: two from the County Commissioner's Court, one from the City of Conroe, one from the smaller incorporated cities in Montgomery County, one from the Woodlands Joint Power Agency, one from the Municipal Utility Districts east of I-45, one from the Municipal Utility Districts west of I-45, one from the soil conservation district, and one from the San Jacinto River Authority. HB 1982 would make the Board a fully elected five member body with one member from each county commissioner precinct and one at large member elected county wide.
"This is about bringing accountability and transparency to the Board of the Directors," explained Metcalf. "The current board makeup is clearly not working for Montgomery County as a whole. It makes no sense to me that we give all of these special interests a seat at the table, but our citizens have absolutely no voice on the current Board. HB 1982 gives our citizens a voice and a seat at the table. Under HB 1982 these new board members will be held accountable to the citizens of all of Montgomery County, and all of Montgomery County will have representation when this bill becomes law. "
"Given the statutory charge of the district and the contentiousness now surrounding appointments to the board," said Representative Cecil Bell, Jr., "I believe the best interests of Montgomery County and of our constituents are served by establishing the right of our citizens to elect the individuals who will serve on the board of the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District.
"After months of discussions with constituents and stake holders the fruits of those discussions have turned into House Bill 1982, which will bring much needed accountability and transparency to a government entity with the power to impose fees on our county's citizens." Said Keough. "I am proud to be working with the entire Montgomery County delegation to bring about change to this board and allow the people to have a say on the directors, who ultimately have the power to make many changes to our way of life and in our use of a natural resource. Protecting citizens' water rights is a duty I don't take lightly and this bill will ensure the citizens of Montgomery County have the last say in what regulations they want to see imposed on a resource that is very precious to them."
The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District boundaries match those of Montgomery County. The district was created in 2001 under the current board structure. There are ninety-nine groundwater districts in Texas. Sixty-six are single county districts like Lone Star GCD. Fifty-six of the single county district boards are elected positions. Lone Star GCD is currently the only groundwater district in the state of Texas with a river authority on its board of the directors.
If passed by the Legislature, the first election for the new board would take place in November of 2018, and the new board would be sworn in January of 2019.