Our Water Matters

As you consider whether or not to vote in favor of Proposition 1 this Election Day, here are few things for you to consider.

As one of only 40 data providers to the National Ground-Water Monitoring Network of the United States Geological Survey, your groundwater district here in Presidio County is eligible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding to advance our understanding of the health of our aquifers. The Presidio County Underground Water Conservation District recently applied for $160,000 in grant funding from the USGS with a 25% match requirement. Instead of going to the taxpayers of Presidio County to raise the matching funds, your groundwater district secured an invitation to submit a proposal for the funds to the Horizon Foundation. 

But your groundwater district also went a step further. After learning that the USGS would not fund Presidio County’s full proposal to expand the current data-collection network from 7 wells to 25 wells throughout the county, your groundwater district submitted an addendum to its proposal to the Horizon Foundation, asking for additional funding to implement the entire project as originally envisioned. Not only did the Horizon Foundation agree to guarantee the additional funding in the amount of $49,000 per year for two years, it also expressed interest in providing future funding to enhance data collection in neighboring Brewster, Jeff Davis, and Culberson counties.

Your groundwater district is also collaborating with the data team of the Texas Water Development Board to assume the monitoring of several wells throughout the county that the TWDB is already measuring annually. With the funding described above, your groundwater district will equip these wells with monitoring equipment to collect water-level data on a daily basis. This data will provide your groundwater district and data experts at the TWDB with a more granular picture to build accurate models of our aquifers and gain a clearer understanding of how much groundwater our aquifers can sustainably produce.

Your groundwater district is also partnering with Dixon Water Foundation, Rio Grande Joint Venture and Borderlands Research Institute to advance a watershed-wide restoration effort called the Alamito Creek Conservation Initiative. This initiative seeks to work with willing landowners to restore the Alamito Creek watershed so that it can better perform its role as a major source of aquifer recharge in our region. Increased aquifer recharge means higher groundwater levels. Since landowners are vested with property rights in all of the water under their land, elevated groundwater levels actually increase the value of a landowner’s property. These sorts of approaches could provide a model for other parts of the desert southwest as we grapple with the challenges posed by hotter, longer dry seasons and shorter, drier wet seasons.

Your groundwater district is governed by a committed board composed of Republicans and Democrats, from different walks of life that represent a variety of perspectives within our county. Your groundwater district is served by an energetic staff that includes one the region’s most respected water experts. And your groundwater district is one of the most successful districts in the whole state when it comes to obtaining the funding necessary to meet its obligations under the law at comparatively little cost to Presidio County’s taxpayers.  

With the population of Texas projected to double by 2040 and the noticeable changes in the stability of our climate, it is these sorts of partnerships and approaches that provide the best path forward to ensure the protection of our groundwater resources. From a strategic perspective, your groundwater district is taking the necessary steps to ensure the future prosperity of Presidio County. From an economic perspective, your groundwater district is generating more value, dollar for dollar, than any other taxing entity in the region.

Proposition 1 seeks to direct a portion of the taxes you’re already paying to the county and dedicate those dollars to directly fund the groundwater district. The taxing authority granted under Proposition 1 is required by law. If the voters do not approve Proposition 1, the groundwater district and all of the work it is doing will disappear. 

So, as you consider whether to support Proposition 1 this coming Saturday, please give some thought not only to the strategic and economic benefits that your groundwater district provides, but also to what you will lose if Proposition 1 fails.

Election Day is Saturday, May 6, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can vote at the PAC in Presidio or at City Hall in Marfa. Visit pcuwcd.org to learn more.

Trey Gerfers is a San Antonio native and serves as general manager of the Presidio County Underground Water Conservation District. He is also chairman of the Presidio County Water Infrastructure Steering Committee and president of the Marfa Parks and Recreation Board. Trey has lived in Marfa since 2013. He can be reached at [email protected]