The ABCs of H20


Anybody who has ever served in the military knows that there is an acronym for every situation.  Seems this is true in the world of water as well.  Sometimes our District Activities Report looks like a series of ciphers.  First let’s start at the office:   UWCD stands for Underground Water Conservation District.

Here’s a sentence that you’ll hear a lot around the office but sounds completely nonsensical:  The GMAs will rely on GAMs in order to determine their DFCs. 

GMAs are Groundwater Management Areas.  A groundwater management area is “an area suitable for the management of groundwater resources.”  In 2001, Senate Bill 2 authorized the TWDB, or Texas Water Development Board, to create and direct GMAs. These areas were to cover all the major and minor aquifers in Texas, however, in some cases this was not possible.  Some of the major aquifers were divided into more than one GMA.  Groundwater conservation districts within a GMA were required to work together and share in joint planning if needed.  This changed four years later when HB 1763 passed in 2005.  This bill made joint planning within GMAs mandatory. 

Districts within a GMA work together to come up with DFCs.  DFC is Desired Future Condition.  Desired future conditions can vary from GMA to GMA.  Some might set a limit on how far water levels can decline before permits are to be cut.  Some look at water quality.  Others will look at total volumes.  Caps on total production from an aquifer will be set.   DFCs must be submitted to the TWDB  by 2010. 

Of course, all these numbers cannot be pulled out of the air.  How will GMAs determine what limits to place on total production?  One resource is the GAM.  GAMS are Groundwater Availability Models.  These models include information such as recharge, geology, aquifer properties, and area surface water sources.   The models are tested to see if they can reasonably reproduce conditions and water levels in the past.  Once again, it is imperative that well owners register and permit their wells in order to get their water usage included in the total numbers.  Without this input, we could possibly show a large surplus of water.  If this happens, our area will be wide-open to water speculators.  Without accurate numbers upon which to rely, the District could easily “over-permit” the area, creating water shortages for all parties.

This year the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) contracted with Daniel B. Stephens and Associates (who teamed with LBG-Guyton & Associates and several individual experts) to develop structure for the Llano Uplift aquifers. The structure will later be incorporated in a GAM for the Hickory, Ellenburger-San Saba, and Marble Falls aquifers. The project is expected to take one year to complete.

If you have any questions, please, do not hesitate to contact our office at 111 East Main Street (north-east side of the square) in Brady or give us a call 325-597-2785 or email