In its sixth year of existence, the groundwater district has seen a rise in water well permits. The increase was spurred by growth, as well as the drought, according to the new manager.
“We have three new companies that needed water – EOG in Refugio and two Southcross plants in Bonnie View,” Niemann said.
Fifty new wells have been drilled in the county, largely a result of the drought.
“A lot of people are drilling wells for livestock,” Niemann said. “It’s been so hot, the existing wells can’t keep up with the needs of the livestock and the evaporation at the troughs.”
The district also mans four weather stations that will be used to track rainfall data in the county, especially along the Mission River that begins and ends in the county.
“My goal as manager is to get a study done on the rivers,” Niemann said. “It’s necessary to collect as much data as possible because of the ongoing drought and the changes in weather patterns from climate change.”
The new manager also plans to incorporate educational programs on water conservation for the local school districts and the public.
“Refugio County is very fortunate to have a lot of water,” Niemann said. “But even so, we need to ensure none is wasted. We want to make sure wells get plugged so there’s no seepage, which is a waste.”
Refugio will not run out of water any time soon, according to Nieman.
“We’re here to protect legendary usage and rights and make sure we conserve what’s here.”
The district also tests water for the public.
“If anyone is having problems with their wells – if the water tastes or smells funny or it’s not producing what it should, call us,” Niemann said.
The manager said the district has procedures in place to collect samples and take them to Victoria for testing.
“Victoria is close, and the testing takes place quickly,” she said. “We especially test for anything that will make a person sick.”
The district also has educational programs on care and maintenance of water wells.
“We have information on how to shock the water and general information on how to maintain the wells,” Niemann said.
The district’s legal consultant, James Allison, an attorney of Austin, keeps abreast of all the legislation concerning water in Texas, so Niemann says the local district is confident that they will be informed.
First and foremost, Niemann says the district is here to ensure the county has water for future generations.