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Priority Groundwater Management Areas

Program to identify areas of Texas experiencing, or expected to experience, critical groundwater problems and encourage the creation of groundwater conservation districts for those areas. Relevant reports, studies, maps, and rules.

Update! (icon)  Hill Country Priority Groundwater Management Area Hearing Status - The Executive Director filed a request with the State Office of Administrative Hearings on January 7, 2014, to withdraw its petition for Commission action in the Comal County and Travis Country portions of the Hill Country PGMA, cancel the hearing on merits, and remand the petition to the Executive Director. On January 14, 15, and 21, parties filed responses, some in support and some in opposition to the Executive Director’s request. On January 21, 2014, the Executive Director filed a reply. The administrative law judges granted the Executive Director’s request on January 27, 2014 (Order No. 13). The Executive Director will continue to seek input and further study the matter.

You may locate additional information using TCEQ Docket No. 2010-1040-MIS or SOAH Docket No. 582-10-5643 on the Commissioners' Integrated Database.

Update! (icon)  Briscoe County - On October 8, 2013, the Executive Director filed a report with the Commission that identifies the western portion of Briscoe County in the Briscoe, Hale, and Swisher County PGMA that is not currently part of a Groundwater Conservation District (GCD). The report recommends that the area be added to the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District #1 as the most feasible, practicable, and economic means to achieve groundwater management in the Briscoe, Hale, and Swisher County PGMA.

A preliminary hearing was held by the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) in Silverton, Texas on December 3, 2013. The SOAH judge took jurisdiction and determined the interested parties. A hearing on the merits is scheduled to be held by SOAH in Silverton, Texas on April 8, 2014. The material filed by the Executive Director with the Commission can be accessed on the Commissioners' Integrated Database using TCEQ Docket No. 2013-1467-WR.

Update! (icon)  Upton and Midland County - The public comment period for the Executive Director's Preliminary Report Soliciting Stakeholder Comments for the Reagan, Upton, and Midland County Priority Groundwater Management Area – Northeastern Upton and Southeastern Midland Counties ended on June 30, 2013. The Notice of Report Availability was mailed to stakeholders on January 24, 2013.

PGMA Information

To enable effective management of the state's groundwater resources in areas where critical groundwater problems exist or may exist in the future, the Legislature has authorized TCEQ, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) Exit the TCEQ, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Exit the TCEQto study, identify, and delineate PGMAs and initiate the creation of GCDs within those areas, if necessary.

What Is a PGMA ?

A Priority Groundwater Management Area (PGMA) is an area designated and delinated by TCEQ that is experiencing, or is expected to experience, within 50 years, critical groundwater problems including shortages of surface water or groundwater, land subsidence resulting from groundwater withdrawal, and contamination of groundwater supplies.

Since the ultimate purpose of designating a PGMA is to ensure the management of groundwater in areas of the state with critical groundwater problems, a PGMA evaluation will consider the need for creating groundwater conservation districts and different options for doing so. Such districts are authorized to adopt policies, plans, and rules that can address critical groundwater problems.

If a study area is designated as a PGMA, TCEQ will make a specific recommendation on groundwater conservation district creation. State law authorizes the citizens in the PGMA two years to establish a Groundwater Conservation District (GCD). However, if local action is not taken in this time frame, TCEQ is required to establish a GCD that is consistent with the original recommendation. Under either scenario, the resultant groundwater conservation district would be governed by a locally elected board of directors.

For more information about PGMAs, see Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service publication B-6191, Priority Groundwater Management Areas: Overview and Frequently Asked QuestionsExit the TCEQ

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Rules

The PGMA process provided in Chapter 35 of the Texas Water Code is implemented by TCEQ rules that outline procedures for the designation of PGMAs and address issues related to the creation of GCDs in areas which have been designated as PGMAs. These TCEQ rules are contained in Title 30, Texas Administrative Code (TAC), §293.19 and §§294.41–294.44. The rules were amended in August 2012 to implement statutory changes made by the 82nd Legislature, 2011.

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Legislative Report

Priority Groundwater Management Areas and Groundwater Conservation Districts, Report to the 83rd Texas Legislature: Published in January 2013, this report provides information to the legislative leadership on activities undertaken during the preceding two years relating to the study and designation of PGMAs and the creation and operation of GCDs. This report has been prepared by TCEQ and TWDB, with assistance from TPWD, the State Auditor's Office (SAO), and TAES. The report fulfills the requirements of Texas Water Code (TWC), Section 35.018.

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Studies, Study Areas, and Designated PGMAs

As of July 2009, 18 PGMA studies and five PGMA update studies have been completed. Eight study areas were determined to have, or were expected to have, critical groundwater problems and were designated as PGMAs:

  • Bandera, Blanco, Gillespie, Kendall, Kerr, Comal, Hays, and Travis Counties and parts of Bexar County — the Hill Country PGMA (considered two study areas);
  • Parts of Reagan, Upton and Midland Counties — the Reagan, Upton, and Midland Counties PGMA;
  • Swisher and parts of Briscoe and Hale Counties — the Briscoe, Hale, and Swisher Counties PGMA;
  • Parts of Dallam County — the Dallam County PGMA;
  • Parts of El Paso County — the El Paso County PGMA;
  • Northern Bexar County — the Northern Bexar County PGMA;
  • Bosque, Coryell, Hill, McLennan, and Somervell Counties — the Central Texas – Trinity Aquifer – PGMA; and,
  • Collin, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Fannin, Grayson, Hood, Johnson, Montague, Parker, Tarrant, and Wise Counties — the North-Central Texas – Trinity and Woodbine Aquifers – PGMA.

Ten study areas were determined not to be PGMAs:

  • Lower Rio Grande Valley Area;
  • Fort Bend County Area;
  • Orange-Jefferson Counties Area;
  • Wintergarden Area;
  • Southernmost High Plains Area;
  • North Texas Alluvium and Paleozoic Outcrop Area;
  • Hudspeth County Area;
  • Williamson and Parts of Adjacent Areas;
  • East Texas Area; and,
  • Trans-Pecos Area.

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PGMA Reports (Since 2004)

Each of these reports is available in PDF format. (Help with PDF.)

  • East Texas Priority Groundwater Management Study Area: Updated Evaluation, June 2004.
  • Trans-Pecos Priority Groundwater Management Study Area: Updated Evaluation, March 2005.
  • Hudspeth County Priority Groundwater Management Study Area:March 2005.
    • Part 1: Table of Contents, Executive Summary, and Introduction (cover–page 8)
    • Part 2: Geology, Physiography, and Groundwater Resources (pages 9–20)
    • Part 3: Natural Resources; State-Owned Lands; Water Use, Demand, Supply, and Availability; Stakeholder Participation; Area Water Concerns and Identified Management Strategies; Existing Water Planning, Regulatory, and Management Entities; Administrative Feasibility of Groundwater Management; Summary; Conclusions and Recommendations; and References (pages 21–77)
  • Williamson, Burnet, and Northern Travis Counties Priority Groundwater Management Study Area: Updated Evaluation, November 2005.
  • North-Central Texas - Trinity and Woodbine Aquifers - Priority Groundwater Management Study Area: Updated Evaluation, June 2007. The report recommends that Collin, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Fannin, Grayson, Hood, Johnson, Montague, Parker, Tarrant, and Wise counties be designated as the Northern Trinity and Woodbine Aquifers Priority Groundwater Management Area (PGMA) and that a regional, fee-funded Groundwater Conservation District (GCD) should be created. After contested case and public hearings, the Commission designated Collin, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Fannin, Grayson, Hood, Johnson, Montague, Parker, Tarrant, and Wise counties as the Northern Trinity and Woodbine Aquifers PGMA on February 18, 2000. The Commission Order recommended a single, multi-county GCD over Collin, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Fannin, Grayson, and Johnson counties.
  • Central Texas - Trinity Aquifer - Priority Groundwater Management Study Area: Updated Evaluation, December 2007. The Commission Order recommended that a regional, combination-tax-based and fee-funded GCD is the most feasible, economic, and practicable option for conservation, protection, and management of the groundwater resources in the area. An alternative recommendation was also provided that recognizes:
    • Multi-GCDs in the PGMA would be practicable and feasible;
    • Two created, but unconfirmed, GCDs (McLennan County GCD and Tablerock GCD in Coryell County) were present in the PGMA; and,
    • These two GCDs are required by their enabling Acts to add an adjacent county by September 2011 or be dissolved by the TCEQ.
  • Dallam County Priority Groundwater Management Area: December 2008. The report and petition recommended that identified areas of the Dallam County PGMA be added to an existing GCD. On February 17, 2010, the Commission issued an Order recommending that all of the three areas that were not included in a GCD in the Dallam County PGMA be added to the North Plains GCD. In March 2012, the 2012 Addendum recommended that identified areas of the Dallam County PGMA be added to an existing GCD. On August 7, 2012, the Commission issued an Order adding the Dallam County PGMA areas to the North Plains GCD.
  • Hill Country Priority Groundwater Management Area: July 2010. The report and petition identified that the northwestern Comal County and southwestern Travis County portions of the PGMA were not in a groundwater conservation district. The report included a primary recommendation for Commission action to create a new three-county GCD to include the PGMA portions of Comal, Hays and Travis counties, and an alternative recommendation for Commission action to add the Comal PGMA territory to the Trinity Glen Rose Groundwater Conservation District and the Travis PGMA territory to the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. The Executive Director filed the petition with the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) in October 2010 and withdrew the primary recommendation and advanced the alternative recommendation in November 2010. The SOAH hearing was abated from May 2011 to June 2013. The Executive Director filed a request with SOAH on January 7, 2014 to withdraw the petition, cancel the hearing, and remand the petition back to the Executive Director. The administrative law judges granted the Executive Director’s request on January 27, 2014.

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GCDs Created in Designated PGMAs

Locally-initiated GCD (or "district") creation, or addition of territory to an existing district, has occurred in six of the designated PGMAs. Areas remain in four PGMAs that have not yet established a GCD. Successful district creation has not occurred in the designated parts of Briscoe, Comal, Dallas, Midland, Travis, and Upton counties.

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