An Audit Report On Groundwater Conservation Districts .

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An Audit Report onGroundwaterConservationDistrictsPhase 2October 2001Report No. 02-005Law rence F. Alw in, CPAState Auditor

Key Points of ReportAn Audit Report on Groundwater Conservation DistrictsPhase 2October 2001Overall ConclusionFive of the 13 local groundwater conservation districts (districts) audited havenot achieved a majority of the audited objectives in their groundwatermanagement plans and, therefore, are not operational. The State does nothave assurance that these five districts are managing their groundwaterappropriately. The remaining eight districts have achieved a majority of theaudited objectives in their groundwater management plans and, therefore,are operational. These eight districts appear to be making a good-faith effortto conserve and protect the groundwater they administer.There are 9 major and 20 minor aquifers across Texas. These undergroundwater systems lie beneath more than 81 percent of the state. Unlike surfacewater, groundwater is owned by the landowner and is governed by the “ruleof capture” laws of Texas. This means that, within reason, landowners can usethe water under their land any way they choose. Local groundwaterconservation districts are the State’s preferred method of groundwatermanagement. This gives landowners local control with limited State oversight.Key Facts and Findings The Collingsworth, Dallam, Fox Crossing, Real-Edwards, and Saratogadistricts are not operational. Although these districts have achieved someobjectives in their groundwater management plans, overall, these districtsare not making a good-faith effort to achieve a majority of the objectivesin their plans.The five districts that are not operational also are not in compliance withthree or more of the audited statutory requirements with which districtsmust comply.The Edwards Aquifer Authority and the Evergreen, Hickory, Hill Country,Medina, North Plains, Springhills, and Uvalde districts are operational andare achieving or making significant progress toward achieving a majorityof the objectives in their groundwater management plans.Seven of the eight operational districts are in full or partial compliance withthe audited statutory requirements for groundwater districts.ContactJulie Ivie, CIA, Audit Manager, (512) 936-9500Lawrence F. Alwin, CPAThis audit was conducted in accordance with Texas Water Code, Section 36.302.

Table of ContentsExecutive Summary .1Section 1:Five of the 13 Districts Audited Are NotOperational .3Collingsworth County Underground Water ConservationDistrict Is Not Operational.3Dallam County Underground Water ConservationDistrict No.1 Is Not Operational .5Fox Crossing Water District Is Not Operational.6Real-Edwards County Conservation and ReclamationWater District Is Not Operational.8Saratoga Underground Water Conservation District isNot Operational.9Section 2:The Five Districts That Are Not Operational HaveNot Complied With Three or More StatutoryRequirements Audited.11Section 3:Eight of the 13 Districts Audited Are Operational .12Edwards Aquifer Authority Is Operational.12Evergreen Underground Water Conservation District IsOperational .16Hickory Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 IsOperational .17Hill Country Underground Water Conservation District IsOperational .18Medina County Groundwater Conservation District IsOperational .19North Plains Groundwater Conservation District IsOperational .21Springhills Water Management District Is Operational .22Uvalde County Underground Water ConservationDistrict Is Operational .24

Table of ContentsSection 4:Seven of the Eight Operational Districts Are inFull or Partial Compliance With StatutoryRequirements Audited.25Management Responses .27Appendices1 - Objectives, Scope, and Methodology .422 - Background Information .453 - Attributes of Audited Districts.464 - Related Maps.49

Executive SummaryFive of the 13 local groundwaterconservation districts (districts) auditedhave not achieved a majority of the auditedobjectives in theirgroundwater managementWhat is a Groundwater Management Plan?plans and, therefore, areTexas Water Code, Chapter 36, requiresnot operational. The Stategroundwater conservation districts to developdoes not have assurancemanagement plans. A successfulmanagement plan illustrates the unique issuesthat these five districts areand concerns facing a district. It shows whatmanaging theirsteps the district is taking to address thosegroundwaterconcerns and to protect and managegroundwater.appropriately.A groundwater district is operational if it hasshown a good faith effort to achieve amajority of the audited objectives in itsmanagement plan. A groundwater district isnot operational if it has not shown a good-faitheffort to achieve a majority of the auditedobjectives in its management plan.In most cases, our determination of whether adistrict had made a good-faith effort toachieve an objective was based on thedistrict’s own performance standards for thatobjective. When the district had noestablished performance standards for anobjective, we assessed the relevantinformation available and made anindependent conclusion.The remaining eightdistricts have achieved amajority of the auditedobjectives in theirgroundwater managementplans and, therefore, areoperational. These eightdistricts appear to bemaking a good-faith effortto conserve and protect thegroundwater theyadminister.Five of the 13 Districts Audited AreNot OperationalThe five districts that are not operational arenot making a good-faith effort to achieve theobjectives in their management plans. TheState does not have assurance that these fivedistricts are adequately conserving,preserving, and protecting the groundwaterthey administer. These five districts are:The Five Districts That Are NotOperational Have Not FullyComplied With Three or MoreStatutory Requirements AuditedThe five districts that are not operational alsoare not in compliance with three or more ofthe Texas Water Code statutory requirementswe audited. None of the five districtscomplied with requirements to adopt policiesand procedures and to obtain an annual auditof their financial status. None of the fivefully complied with statutory budgetrequirements.Eight of the 13 Districts Audited AreOperationalThe eight districts that are operational aremaking a good-faith effort to achieve theobjectives in their management plans. Theseeight districts are: Edwards Aquifer Authority Evergreen Underground WaterConservation District Hickory Underground WaterConservation District No. 1 Collingsworth County UndergroundWater Conservation District Hill Country Underground WaterConservation District Dallam County Underground WaterConservation District No. 1 Medina County GroundwaterConservation District Fox Crossing Water District Real-Edwards County Conservation andReclamation Water DistrictNorth Plains Groundwater ConservationDistrict Springhills Water Management District Uvalde County Underground WaterConservation District OCTOBER 2001The Water Development Board has certifiedthe management plans of these five districts,but the districts have achieved little progressin accomplishing most of the objectiveswithin their plans.Saratoga Underground WaterConservation DistrictAN AUDIT REPORT ONGROUNDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICTS – PHASE 2PAGE 1

Executive SummarySeven of the Eight OperationalDistricts Are in Full or PartialCompliance With StatutoryRequirements AuditedSeven of the eight operational districts are infull or partial compliance with all of theTexas Water Code statutory requirements weaudited. The Evergreen Underground WaterConservation District was not in compliancewith the requirement to adopt policies andprocedures.Summary of ManagementResponsesThe districts generally agree with theobservations in this report, and several ofthem have already begun implementingchanges to accomplish the objectives in theirmanagement plans. We will forward thedistricts’ responses to the Natural ResourceConservation Commission, which isresponsible for enforcing compliance. Eachdistrict’s response is included in this report.Summary of Audit Objectives andScopeOur objective was to determine whether the13 districts had achieved the objectives intheir groundwater management plans. If adistrict achieved a majority of the auditedobjectives in its plan, we considered thatdistrict to be operational. A secondaryobjective was to determine the districts’compliance with selected statutoryrequirements in Texas Water Code,Chapter 36.Texas Water Code, Section 36.302, requiresthe State Auditor’s Office to audit thedistricts’ achievement of the objectives intheir management plans.Table 1Summary of Audit Results by District and ObjectiveOperationalNot lyAchievedPartiallyAchievedNotAchievedUnable toDetermineNotApplicableCollingsworth County UWCD1717111500Dallam County UWCD No.14400310Fox Crossing WD6620301Real-Edwards County CRWD5500500Saratoga UWCD5512200Edwards Aquifer Authority3920164000Evergreen UWCD4420110Hickory UWCD No.14431000Hill Country UWCD7761000Medina County GCD5550000North Plains GCD2412100200Springhills WMD271164100Uvalde County UWCD5541000UWCD-Underground Water Conservation DistrictWMD-Water Management DistrictWD-Water DistrictCRWD-Conservation and Reclamation Water DistrictGCD-Groundwater Conservation DistrictPAGE 2AN AUDIT REPORT ONGROUNDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICTS – PHASE 2OCTOBER 2001

Section 1:Five of the 13 Districts Audited Are Not OperationalFive of the 13 districts have not achieved a majority of the audited objectives in theirgroundwater management plans. Therefore, these five districts are not operational andare not making a good-faith effort to achieve the objectives of their managementplans. As a result, the State does not have assurance that these districts are adequatelyconserving, preserving, and protecting the groundwater they administer.Although these five districts have achieved some of the objectives in theirmanagement plans, they have not achieved or actively pursued the majority of theirplan objectives. These five districts are: Collingsworth County Underground Water Conservation DistrictDallam County Underground Water Conservation District No. 1Fox Crossing Water DistrictReal-Edwards County Conservation and Reclamation Water DistrictSaratoga Underground Water Conservation DistrictFox Crossing Water District is pursuing the development of objectives that are moreclosely associated with the management of surface water in the area for which it isresponsible. This district chose to pursue other objectives because of the smallamount of groundwater that exists in the area it oversees.Section 1-A:Collingsworth County Underground Water Conservation District IsNot OperationalCollingsworth County Underground Water Conservation District (District) did notachieve 15 of the 17 audited objectives in its management plan. Therefore, theDistrict is not operational. Among the objectives the District did not achieve wereobjectives to measure the wells in its network and to define aquifer conditions to beused as a trigger for implementing emergency drought management plans.The District achieved its objective to write and adopt rules on wasteful practices ingroundwater use. It partially achieved its educational packet objective by makingeducational brochures available to the public in its office. Table 2 provides additionaldetails on each of the audited objectives.OCTOBER 2001AN AUDIT REPORT ONGROUNDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICTS – PHASE 2PAGE 3

Table 2Collingsworth County Underground Water Conservation DistrictAchievement of Management Plan ObjectivesObjectiveAchieved?Auditor’s CommentManagement Goal 1.0Implement a system to improve the basic understanding of groundwater conditions in the District.Objective 1.1Annually measure 10% of the wells in theoptimal water-level monitoring network.NoThe District does not measure wells.Objective 1.1aAverage cost per water-level measurementobtained for this year.NoThe District does not measure wells.Objective 1.2Annually measure 3% of the wells in the optimalwater-quality monitoring network.NoThe District does not measure wells.Objective 1.2aAverage annual cost per water-quality sampleobtained for the year.NoThe District does not measure wells.Objective 1.3Enter monitoring data into District’s database.NoThe District does not maintain a database forwater monitoring.Objective 1.4Provide to the Board of Directors an annualreport of the evaluation methods of estimatingcurrent annual aquifer recharge, discharge,movement and storage values annually.NoThe District does not provide an annual report tothe board.Objective 1.5Submit two grant proposals seeking funds fornecessary system upgrades of the monitoringnetwork.NoThe District has not submitted any grantproposals.Management Goal 2.0Implement management strategies that will protect and enhance the quantity of useable quality water byencouraging the most efficient use.Objective 2.1Disseminate educational information at leasttwice a year regarding the currentconservation practices for efficient use ofwater resources.NoThe District does not disseminate educationalinformation.Objective 2.1aNumber of District demonstrations ofconservation practices applicable to Districtmade annually.NoThe District has not made any demonstrations ofconservation practices.Objective 2.1bNumber of conservation literature handoutpackets made available to District patrons andeducational institutions.PartialThe District has educational material availableat its office. Conservation literature is availablethrough the Soil and Water ConservationDistrict. The District has not made an effort toget this information to the schools.Objective 2.2aNumber of grant proposals submitted annuallyseeking funds for beneficial efficiency studies.NoPAGE 4The District has not submitted any grantproposals since it was awarded two grants in1996.AN AUDIT REPORT ONGROUNDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICTS – PHASE 2OCTOBER 2001

Collingsworth County Underground Water Conservation DistrictAchievement of Management Plan ObjectivesObjectiveAchieved?Objective 2.3Determine definitions of aquifer conditions tobe used as trigger mechanisms to implementemergency drought management plans.NoAuditor’s CommentThe District has not defined conditions forimplementing a drought managementcontingency plan.Management Goal 3.0Implement management strategies that will protect and enhance the quantity of useable quality water by controllingand preventing waste.Objective 3.2Write and adopt rules to regulate wastefulpractices.YesThe District has adopted rules about wastefulwater practices.Objective 3.3Initiate a District wide program to identify thelocation of all abandoned wells.NoThe District has not initiated a program to findabandoned wells.Objective 3.4Develop and adopt guidelines for abandonedwell owners to ensure voluntary compliancewith plugging requirements.NoThe District has not adopted guidelines forabandoned well owners to follow to ensurevoluntary compliance with pluggingrequirements.Management Goal 4.0District tracking of progress towards achievement of management goals.Objective 4.1District manager will prepare and present anannual report to the Board of Directors onDistrict performance in regards to achievingmanagement goals and objectives.NoThe District did not prepare an annual report.Objective 4.1aAnnual Report maintained on file at the Districtoffice.NoThe District did not prepare an annual report.Section 1-B:Dallam County Underground Water Conservation District No.1 IsNot OperationalDallam County Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 (District) did notachieve three of the four audited objectives in its management plan. Therefore, theDistrict is not operational. The District did not achieve its objectives to measure thewells in its network, to define a trigger for implementing emergency droughtmanagement plans, and to publish at least two newspaper articles on the advantages oflow pressure sprinkler systems.We were unable to determine whether the District achieved the fourth objectiveregarding monitoring waste caused by water/irrigation runoff because the Districtstated that it had not received any complaints of water irrigation runoff. Table 3provides additional details on each of the audited objectives.OCTOBER 2001AN AUDIT REPORT ONGROUNDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICTS – PHASE 2PAGE 5

Table 3Dallam County Underground Water Conservation District No.1Achievement of Management Plan ObjectivesObjectiveAchieved?Auditor’s CommentManagement Goal 1.0Provide the most efficient use of groundwater.Objective 1.1Annually, run at least two (2) articles in thelocal newspaper on the advantages oflow pressure sprinkler systems for irrigationpurposes.NoThe District has not written two newspaperarticles within the last year.NoThe District has not conducted studies or writtenarticles for the local newspaper.Unable todetermineThe District specified that it has not received anycomplaints about water/irrigation runoff for atleast ten years.NoThe District asserts that it encourageslandowners by word-of-mouth. It is not aware ofany abandoned wells and does not keeprecords of wells that have been plugged orcapped.Management Goal 2.0Provide the most efficient use of groundwater.Objective 2.1Study the use of underground dripirrigation systems and, when feasible forthe District, annually run at least two (2)articles in the local newspaper on theadvantages.Management Goal 3.0Controlling and preventing waste of groundwater.Objective 3.1Each year, the District will monitor anddiscourage all waste caused bywater/irrigation runoff. (standard—number of complaints received or wastereported)Management Goal 4.0Address natural resource issues.Objective 4.1Each year, the District will encouragelandowners to seek out all abandonedwater wells and encourage landowners toplug or cap wells in order to preventpollution. (standard—number of wellsplugged or capped annually)Section 1-C:Fox Crossing Water District Is Not OperationalFox Crossing Water District (District) did not achieve three of the six auditedobjectives in its management plan. Therefore, the District is not operational. TheDistrict did not achieve its objectives to implement a program to investigategroundwater waste, to establish a program to monitor water quality in the cities ofGoldthwaite and Priddy, and to publish a newspaper article addressing the importanceof reducing brush cover.The District met two objectives to educate the public on efficient use of groundwaterand to encourage contraction of in-channel dams. The District has not yet establishedPAGE 6AN AUDIT REPORT ONGROUNDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICTS – PHASE 2OCTOBER 2001

additional sites for container recycling and collection, but the deadline for achievingthis objective is not until January 2007.The District is pursuing the development of objectives that are more closelyassociated with the management of surface water in the area for which it isresponsible. It chose to pursue other objectives because of the small amount ofgroundwater that exists in the area it oversees.Table 4 provides additional details on each of the audited objectives.Table 4Fox Crossing Water DistrictAchievement of Management Plan ObjectivesObjectiveAchieved?Auditor’s CommentManagement Goal 1.0Implement management strategies that will protect & enhance the quantity of usable quality water by encouragingthe most efficient use of groundwater.Objective 1.1Annually the District will provide educationto the residents of the Fox Crossing WaterDistrict on the efficient use of groundwaterby serving as speakers on at least twooccasions, by speaking to local serviceclubs, schools, business groups and ruralresidents. At least two functions will beaddressed at each group annually.YesThe District provided photocopies of newspaperarticles from the Goldthwaite Eagle-MullinEnterprise that documented speakingengagements at the Lower Colorado WaterPlanning Group and the Self Culture Club.Management Goal 2.0Implement a program to protect the quality of the aquifer by collecting and recycling waste oil and used filters.Objective 2.1The District will establish at least two (2)additional sites for recycling and collectionof containers that have been used forhydrocarbons, pesticides, and fertilizer-typematerials by January 2007.NotApplicable(deadline forachievementis January2007)The District asserts it has not implementedwaste-oil recycling sites because there are nosites in which to place them. The District alsoasserts that there is no funding for these sites.Management Goal 3.0Implement a program to investigate in a timely manner reports of the waste of groundwater.Objective 3.1The District will implement a program toinvestigate all reports of groundwater wasteby January 2003.NoThe District has done no work in planning to startthis program. The District asserts that it focuseson surface water because it has relatively littlegroundwater to manage.Management Goal 4.0Develop a water quality monitoring network for the purpose of establishing the baseline water quality throughout theDistrict.Objective 4.1The District will establish a program tomonitor the City of Goldthwaite and theCity of Priddy reports on water quality byJanuary 2001.OCTOBER 2001NoThe District has no formal program establishedto monitor water quality. The District asserts thatit would not be cost-effective to monitor reportson water quality because there is so littlegroundwater.AN AUDIT REPORT ONGROUNDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICTS – PHASE 2PAGE 7

Fox Crossing Water DistrictAchievement of Management Plan ObjectivesObjectiveAchieved?Auditor’s CommentManagement Goal 5.0Address natural resource issues which impact the use and availability of groundwater and which are impacted by theuse of groundwater in the District.Objective 5.1Annually the District will cause at least onearticle to be published in the GoldthwaiteEagle addressing the importance ofreducing brush cover to increasegroundwater recharge.NoThe District believes that landowners arealready educated on brush control and has notpublished an article in the local newspaper.Objective 5.2Encourage the contraction of in-channeldams on the smaller creeks, draws, andstreams in the District plus rivers of major size.YesThe District has worked in conjunction with stateand national officials to have a water studyperformed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.The results of this study should indicate the bestsite to build a dam.Section 1-D:Real-Edwards County Conservation and Reclamation WaterDistrict Is Not OperationalReal-Edwards County Conservation and Reclamation Water District (District) did notachieve any of the five audited objectives in its management plan. Therefore, theDistrict is not operational. Among the objectives the District did not achieve wereobjectives to work with interested parties on aquifer storage and recovery projects,and to issue well construction permits. The District re-established itself under a newlyappointed board in January 2000 and has stated that it plans to become active inmanaging groundwater.Table 5 provides additional details on each of the audited objectives.Table 5Real-Edwards County Conservation and Reclamation Water DistrictAchievement of Management Plan ObjectivesObjectiveAchieved?Auditor’s CommentNoThe District did not provide education materials onprohibited groundwater waste to newspapers or thegeneral public.Management Goal 1.0To control and prevent the waste of groundwater.Objective 1.01Provide education materials tonewspapers and general public on atleast 6 occasions concerningprohibited waste.PAGE 8AN AUDIT REPORT ONGROUNDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICTS – PHASE 2OCTOBER 2001

Real-Edwards County Conservation and Reclamation Water DistrictAchievement of Management Plan ObjectivesObjectiveAchieved?Auditor’s CommentManagement Goal 2.0Addressing natural resource issues that impact the use and availability of groundwater and are impacted by the use ofgroundwater.Objective 2.1Work w/ all interested parties andappropriate agencies to developadditional info on aquifer storage andrecovery projects and require permitsfor all aquifer storage and recoveryprojects.NoThe District has not worked with other parties on thedevelopment of additional information on aquiferstorage and recovery projects.Objective 2.2Require issuance of a well constructionpermit prior to drilling all new wells.NoThe District has not instituted permitting procedures.Management Goal 3.0Providing for the efficient use of groundwater within the District.Objective 3.1Each year provide water measuringdevices to the public in response to allrequests in an effort to increase theefficiency of irrigating lawns.NoThe District has not provided information to thepublic on the availability of metering devices.Objective 3.2Each year, provide informativespeakers to schools and civic groups toraise public awareness of practiceswhich insure the efficient use ofgroundwater.NoA guest speaker addressed the board of directors atits October 17, 2000, meeting. No other speakershave addressed the public or schools in the District.Section 1-E:Saratoga Underground Water Conservation District Is NotOperationalSaratoga Underground Water Conservation District (District) did not achieve two ofthe five audited objectives in its management plan, and only partially achieved two ofthe five audited objectives. Therefore, the District is not operational.The District did not achieve its objectives to conduct speaking engagements on thewise use of groundwater and to meet with the leaders of the incorporated cities todiscuss better use of surface water. The District partially achieved its objective topublish educational newsletters and provide conservation information duringAgriculture Day. It partially achieved its objective to maintain a collection site forrecycling.The District achieved its objective to lend its support to surface water monitoringefforts at Sulphur Creek. Table 6 provides additional details on each of the auditedobjectives.OCTOBER 2001AN AUDIT REPORT ONGROUNDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICTS – PHASE 2PAGE 9

Table 6Saratoga Underground Water Conservation DistrictAchievement of Management Plan ObjectivesObjectiveAchieved?Auditor’s CommentsGoal 1.0Implement management strategies that will protect and enhance the quality of useable quality water byencouraging the most efficient use of ground water.Objective 1.1Each year, the District will provideeducational materials identifyingconservation measures for the efficient use ofwater. Annually, two District newsletter issueswill be published that contain waterconservation information. Handout packetswith conservation literature will be providedat the annual Lampasas County AgricultureDay, or one other water related function.PartialObjective 1.2Each year the District will provide informativespeakers to local school districts and/or civicorganizations to raise public awareness toensure wise use of ground water.NoThe District did not publish newsletters.However, it did pass out conservation literatureat the Lampasas County Agriculture Day.The District did not conduct any speakingengagements concerning the wise use ofgroundwater.Goal 2.0Implement a program to improve and protect the quality of the aquifer and to control and prevent waste.Objective 2.1Each year, continue to maintain a collectionsite for recycling of waste oil and used oilfilters and provide all necessary reports toDistrict board reflecting results of program.PartialThe District maintains a collection site, but itdoes not furnish the board with reportsreflecting the results of the program.Goal 3.0Lend support to a water quality monitoring group for the purpose of establishing baseline water quality throughout theDistrict.Objective 3.1District will lend support to a local watermonitoring team that monitors Sulphur Creek,the major creek located in the District, forwater quality.YesThe District met this objective.NoThe District has not begun working on thisobjective.Goal 4.0Address conjunctive surface water management issues.Objective 4.1Annually meet with leaders of theincorporated cities in our District to discussand review potential better use of surfacewater resources in the area. District willconsult with other water districts and otherinformed water conservationists on waterissues throughout the year to learn moreefficient ways to manage surface water.PAGE 10AN AUDIT REPORT ONGROUNDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICTS – PHASE 2OCTOBER 2001

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Medina County Groundwater Conservation District North Plains Groundwater Conservation District Springhills Water Management District Uvalde County Underground Water Conservation District F What is a Groundwater Management Plan? Texas Water Code, Chapter 36, requires ground

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