City of Conroe Announces Major Victory in Fight Against Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District Rules
Senior Judge Lamar McCorkle sitting as a visiting judge in the 284th Judicial District Court in Montgomery County, Texas has declared a key rule adopted by the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District to be invalid. The now invalid rule required the City of Conroe and other large volume groundwater users to reduce total groundwater pumping to a volume equal to 70% of the user’s 2009 production. The decision came in a lawsuit filed by the City of Conroe and other Plaintiffs arguing that the Lone Star District lacked the legal authority to impose the rule. The ruling was made in response to a motion for partial summary judgment filed by Conroe and the other Plaintiffs.
In a separate decision Judge McCorkle denied a Lone Star District request to recover attorney fees related to the Court’s prior dismissal of claims brought by the Plaintiffs against the General Manager and District board members in their official capacity.
The now invalid rule severely limited groundwater pumping throughout Montgomery County and forced large volume groundwater users to enter into costly Groundwater Reduction Plans (GRP agreements) to replace the lost groundwater with an alternative supply. As a result Conroe water customers have seen rates double and millions of dollars have been paid to the San Jacinto River Authority in its capacity as the operator of the GRP.
Prosecuting this lawsuit against the Lone Star District has been part of the Conroe City Council’s continuing effort to challenge the Lone Star District’s and SJRA’s actions that have inflated water prices in Montgomery County.
Conroe expects the current Board of Directors of the Lone Star District to continue to try to defend this rule by appealing to a higher court, but Conroe hopes the new Lone Star Board that will be installed after the upcoming November 2018 election will drop the appeal and work toward a more sensible groundwater policy with Conroe and other cities in the County.