New water restrictions invalid? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

New water restrictions invalid?


One local group is fighting newly-imposed water restrictions across the South Plains.

The rules implemented in January 2012 put stricter limits on municipalities, landowners and farmers who use well water.

In 2005, state legislation mandated water conservation planning; in response, the High Plains Underground Water Conservation district proposed a new 50-50 plan to preserve underground water supplies in the Ogallala Aquifer. The restrictions affect 16 West Texas counties and more than 60,000 wells.

Now, some farmers say these controversial rules will actually ruin the cotton industry and cost billions.

But it's not just about water restrictions for the Protect Water Rights Coalition. The group believes the limit of 15 inches of water can ruin an irrigated crop and waste water, but they've also raised objections about the service of a water district board member.

PWRC member J.O. Dawdy says Bruce Rigler served on the Board of Directors for the High Plains Water District unlawfully.

The Texas Water Code under section 36.051 B states: "a member of a governing body of another political subdivision is ineligible for appointment or election as a Director. A Director is disqualified and vacates the office of Director if the Director is appointed or elected as a member of the governing body of another political subdivision."

Since 1993, Rigler has served as a Board of Director for the Region 17 Education Service Center and the Conservation District Board.

PWRC believes that this statute makes all laws and taxes passed for the past two decades invalid, since the board only had four operating board members, not the mandatory five.

"We feel like we're being taxed illegally," Dawdy said. "It invalidates any vote they have conducted since 1993."

Rigler said his one and only comment is: "I have served on many boards for many years and it's never been a problem."

High Plains Water District Manager, Jim Conkwright said Rigler's prior service on two boards is not an issue.

"We feel like the Underground Water District Board can serve simultaneously with an Education Service Center Board," he said.

Conkwright says the Board has requested the opinion of the Attorney General and is awaiting a response.

There is also an issue of residency. Due to health reasons, Rigler resides in Dallas with his son.

More than one local chapter of the Farm Bureau has called for his resignation and said he is no longer effective.

Conkwright confirmed that the board received the letter.

PWRC members claim that without Rigler, the Conservation District did not have the minimum five votes to be legal and proper.

The outcome will be determined once the Attorney General delivers a response to the Board.

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