Montgomery County residents are expecting a dramatic shift in water policy with the election of a new board of directors for the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, the county’s groundwater regulatory agency.
The new directors were sworn in by State Rep. Will Metcalf (R-Montgomery) on Nov. 16 at the district’s palatial headquarters after the outgoing board canvassed the election results. The former board president and vice president were conspicuously absent from the canvassing.
The previous appointed board had fallen under the influence of the San Jacinto River Authority and pursued a harsh regulatory policy towards water companies, forcing people to buy water from the SJRA. The new board ran on a platform of deregulation and free-market reform.
After taking the oath of office, the new board unanimously elected former Conroe Mayor Webb Melder as the board president. Melder is the only member of the old board who will continue to serve on the new board, and he has led the charge for groundwater reform as a frequent dissenter of the former board’s policies.
Harry Hardman was elected as vice president, Stuart Traylor as secretary, and Jim Spigener as treasurer. Jon Bouche, Jonathan Prykryl, and Larry Rogers constitute the rest of the new board.
Several reforms were discussed by the new members, including a full audit of the district, moving meetings to the afternoon so working taxpayers can attend, and streaming meetings live on the website.
Perhaps the most significant decision facing the board in the short term is whether or not to continue the old board’s feckless legal war. In October, Senior District Judge Lamar McCorkle ruled that the strict regulations imposed on private water companies by the LSGCD were not in compliance with state law. The old board had intended to appeal the decision, and the new board must now decide whether to drop the case and let McCorkle’s pro-free-market decision stand.
An executive session was held on Nov. 20, but a decision regarding the lawsuit has yet to be announced.