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MPGCD hears contamination concerns from Upton County

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Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013 12:00 am

Possible water contamination of the aquifer serving McCamey and Upton County has caught the attention of the Upton County Water District, and board members there have approached the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District for help in resolving the matter.

The issue centers around a drilling permit approved by MPGCD for Randy Braden.

"Mr. Braden and the water well drillers he contracted with, in our opinion, have likely created contamination pathways from the shallow, saline, Pecos Valley Alluvium Aquifer into the underlying Edwards-Trinity aquifer under his property in Pecos County," said Dr. Craig Pearson of the Upton County Water District.

Pearson said that water from the Pecos Valley Alluvium aquifer is seeping into the Edwards-Trinity — which provides Upton County's water — because the drillers of Braden's wells gravel-packed the wells without isolating the saline water from the Pecos County Alluvium from the Edwards-Trinity.

"We've got a real problem, in my view, and the view of the Upton County Water District," Pearson said. "We've got a source of contamination, and continued exposure of our superior quality Edwards-Trinity waters that we're using as a potable water source for the citizens of McCamey and southwestern Upton County is just untenable. We can't continue on with this."

Upton County landowner Gary Drgac, owns the water supply wells that provides Upton County's water, and he said he has requested that Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District investigate the drilling and production of Braden's water. The Upton County Water District wants MPGCD to plug Braden's wells with cement, contact state agencies, including TCEQ, to help address the issues with the well drillers, and obtain water samples and analysis of the water being pumped on Braden's property.

Drgac requested findings and conclusions in the matter. Braden was not at Tuesday's meeting to address the issue.

"There's been requests for all the information through the public information act, I've supplied the documents," said general manager Paul Weatherby.

"We don't have water quality on his wells, we don't have production records," Drgac said. "We're kind of getting blindsided on this I think because he's been approved a permit to pump without any information whatsoever."

Mike Gershon, attorney for the MPGCD, said that from the district's perspective, there is nothing more to do.

"Everything that Gary's asking for is legitimate, that I haven't provided him because I don't have it," Weatherby said. "That's the next step. The board needs to make a decision on what they need Mr. Braden to do to satisfy the issue of not contaminating our aquifers."

The board decided to have Braden provide the requested information before the May 21 meeting, and go from there.

In other action:

•The district decided to enter into a lawsuit against Acosta Drilling pursuant to Texas Water Code 36.102 and district rule 15.3.6 for failure to comply with district rule 11.1 and the failure to pay the assessed enforcement penalty. Acosta drilled on Braden's property without permits, and when the district assessed a penalty, Acosta Drilling failed to pay the penalty;

•The district approved drilling and production permits for Kenneth McIntyre's property, west of Fort Stockton off I-10. McIntyre wanted a permit in perpetuity, but the district will require him to reapply yearly.

"I think, to be consistent with what we've already done, I don't see how we can do a perpetual permit," said board vice president John D. Dorris. "We've never done it and we've got to be consistent";

•Elected Jerry McGuairt board president, retained Dorris as vice president and M.R. Gonzalez as secretary/treasurer.

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