Well, well, well ...
Just about every commissioners court session, commissioners consider platting ordinances, requests for septic systems and applications for water wells, each of which impacts the water table. As commissioners consider the requests, in the back of their minds is the concern that a growing county population may soon outgrow the available water in unincorporated areas.
During previous meetings, commissioners have hinted that one solution to the problem would be to require all residential lots be a minimum two acres in size in all unincorporated areas of the county where public water – provided by a city – is not viable.
With that in mind, commissioners interrupted regular business Monday to conduct an open workshop regarding sub-division rules and regulations specific to water.
The workshop featured Jim Conkwright, general manager of the Prairieland Groundwater Conservation District, and James Beach, senior vice-president and hydrologist with LBG Guyton Associates of Austin.
“The two-acre minimum tract size is a consumer protection issue that impacts the longevity of the water supply,” Conkwright said. “Our concern for water is considerable.”
Prairland has jurisdiction over Ellis, Hill, Somervell and Johnson counties, Conkwright said.
Aquafirs are experiencing water level decline, Beach said.
“The more wells, the more decline,” Beach said. “However, that decline is cut in half when the lot sizes go from one acre to two acres.”
Based on five year studies by LBG Guyton on lot sizes of one, two, five and 10 acres, the risk of not having water is 65 percent on a one-acre lot, Beach said.
“But, a two-acre lot, the risk is reduced to 20 percent,” he said.
That statistic quenched County Judge Roger Harmon’s quest for action.
“When you sell property and the water doesn’t come on, people are mad,” Harmon said. “And the problem can’t be fixed. I like the idea of two-acre lots.”
The two-acre minimum requirement should be passed by Hill and Somervell counties by the end of the year, Conkwright said.
“Ellis County already has a three-acre minimum requirement,” he said.
Other commissioners expressed support.
“I shared this idea with Johnson County Realtors Association and they were in favor,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Larry Woolley said.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Kenny Howell said he was flagged down by a septic tank installer who said he heard about the possibility of the two-acre minimum requirement.
“He was thrilled,” Howell said. “A one-acre lot with a well on it leaves no room for a septic system because of the minimum distances required.”
The two-acre minimum will require public hearings before it becomes law, Harmon said. However, residents can expect the issue on the agenda soon.
In the new business portion of the agenda, Precinct 1 Commissioner Rick Bailey took the opportunity to remind the county’s various city councils about a cost of annexation that is too often overlooked.
“As a city annexes territory that includes county roads, cities need to be cognizant that they are assuming the liability to maintain that road,” Bailey said. “The county’s responsibility decreases, and the state can’t help. But suddenly, the city doesn’t have the money to to maintain the road. I just want cities to remember that.”
The next scheduled meeting of the Johnson County Commissioners Court will be 9 a.m. Monday, June 26, in Room 201 of the County Courthouse in Cleburne.
Readers can watch the session online at www.johnsoncounytx.org by clicking on Commissioners Court and following the links to “meeting video.”