For the first time in its history, the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District is holding an election for its board of directors. All seven positions are on the November ballot, and have attracted a host of candidates.
The LSGCD covers all of Montgomery County and was created by the Texas Legislature in 2001 for the purpose of managing the groundwater supply in the fast-growing county. It has been governed by a board appointed by city governments, MUDs, and other local taxing entities.
Because it is completely unaccountable to the people, the LSGCD has become a bureaucratic nightmare, eventually falling under the influence of the also unelected San Jacinto River Authority.
The LSCGD decided to restrict water being pumped from the aquifers to 64,000 acre-feet a year, and began imposing strict regulations on private water companies in 2016. Instead of water being provided to communities by private water companies, the LSGCD plan gives the SJRA a monopoly on the water supply, relying on the SJRA to provide water for residents.
The SJRA has developed a $479.8 million surface water treatment plan that will be paid for by excessive fees tacked onto people’s water bills. Because of the government monopoly on water, and the regulation of private water companies, water bills have on average have doubled for Montgomery County residents.
However, thanks to a bill passed in the last session making the LSGCD board elected, voters finally have a chance to reign in the LSGCD and reverse its anti-free market policies that are driving up the price of water.
The water companies, along with tea party and business leaders have created a political action committee, called Restore Affordable Water PAC to elect pro-free market candidates to the board. The pro-SJRA forces benefiting from the status quo have also recruited a slate of candidates for the board.
With all seven positions up for grabs, and few incumbents running, this election will determine the makeup of the board, and could have a huge impact of the policies the LSGCD pursues, and therefore everyone’s water bills.
A full list of candidates running can be found here.