The Red River Groundwater Conservation District welcomed three new members and said goodbye with amiable handshakes to three of its current appointees at a meeting of the District’s Board of Directors on Thursday afternoon.

The Red River Groundwater Conservation District welcomed three new members and said goodbye with amiable handshakes to three of its current appointees at a meeting of the District’s Board of Directors on Thursday afternoon.


Chairman Mark Patterson presided over the meeting, during which RRGCD General Manager Jerry Chapman presented most of the information for the Board.


After confirming the appointment of Mark Gibson, Mark Newhouse, and William Purcell to the Board, the new and veteran members presented outgoing RRGCD directors Don Morrison, Butch Henderson and George Olson with plaques commemorating their service to the region as Board members.


Gibson was selected by the Sherman City Council to replace Sherman City Manager George Olson as the city’s representative on the Board. Newhouse represents the non-municipal, retail water providers in the region, and Purcell was appointed to represent the small cities of Fannin County.


"Y’all have fun, remember to laugh every once in a while," one outgoing director said with a wave while strolling out of the meeting, and the RRGCD got right back to business.


Chapman presented the Board with a report of its monthly invoices, of which he said the primary expenses were maintenance costs for the District’s website and fees from a firm for "legal research involving oil and gas fracking activities."


Chapman also gave a report of the District’s finances, saying that revenues for the District, which come entirely from production fees, still comfortably outweigh the District’s expenses by about $10,000.


Based on strongly-worded advice from Chapman, the District appointed a representative to the Groundwater Management Area 8 organization. The management area requires counties and other local governments to create a comprehensive, 50-year plan for how groundwater will be kept at acceptable levels in Texas for the next 50 years.


Chapman said the groundwater area is "going to be an important function going forward. The legislature required this, and it has to be in place by 2016. I would urge you to be aware of and participate in (this), to protect your rights to your groundwater. There are already disputes in that area. This is going to be a very opinionated and contentious process."


The Board selected member David Gattis, who was acknowledged by Chapman as the most experienced in the subject, to represent the RRGCD’s interests for the statewide program.


Chapman explained to the Board the staff’s request to approve possible legal action against non-compliant well owners in the area. Chapman said, "They withdraw a lot of water, and we need to know (how much). Some of them think it’s just about money, but if you have twice as many people coming to the state, more than twice as many in North Texas, and they’re going to turn around and drill wells to support themselves, we need to know where our water’s going to come from for the next 50 years."


Chapman said the RRGCD made every reasonable effort to get the legally-required development and operational fees from the landowners, but to avail. "We have had very good compliance with most well owners," Chapman said, "but we’ve had some where it’s reached a point where we’ve exhausted all of our knowledge on how to get these four entities — and they happen to all be golf courses — under compliance."


After a statement of support from Patterson, the Board unanimously approved the motion to take enforcement actions against the non-compliant well owners.


The Board voted to schedule its next meeting for Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. in the boardroom of the Greater Texoma Utility Authority at North Texas Regional Airport-Perrin Field.