Terrell County Water Regulations Cause Controversy

Terrell County Water Regulations Cause Controversy

by Brian Wise
NewsWest 9

TERRELL COUNTY- For people out in Terrell County, water is more precious than gold. Now the county wants to tax wells on private property if they pump more than 25,000 gallons a day.

The Terrell Water Conservation Board met Wednesday night to discuss new regulations that private land owners would need to abide by. One of those regulations is registering each well with the state.

"They only need to fill out a single sheet of paper," Scott Mitchell, the head of the Terrell County Water Conservation Board, said.

In 2011, the State House of Representatives passed House Bill 2859 which allows for the county to tax well owners per so many gallons they use. This bill was meant to keep companies from exploiting this land for water. Residents are exempt from this tax because their water usage is well below the 25,000 gallon limit.

For every 10000 gallons of water, $4.25 goes to the county. Residents have no idea how many gallons that actually is. Mark Walker uses one well for his hunting resort. The water supplies cabins and his house. He said that no one has meters on their wells to tell how much they use.

"That's the thing we don't have, meters on our wells here. Since we have private wells, we try to conserve water. I don't like to waste a glass of water myself," Walker said.

Mitchell says the way to measure water usage is to observe water levels in the aquifer. That way he says there will be plenty of water for the future.

But residents say registering their wells is the first step to removing their property rights covered in the Texas Bill of Rights.