Well monitoring will expand, improve under three-year deal between MPGCD and Fort Stockton Holdings

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The Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District renewed a three-year Joint Study Agreement with Fort Stockton Holdings, LP at its June 16 regular meeting.

The agreement includes the holding company paying $250,000 to the MPGCD for the installation of monitoring equipment that will measure water levels and quality in real time at 25 to 30 wells at the company's farmland in Belding.

The monitoring is both important and timely, according to MPGCD General Manager Ty Edwards given Fort Stockton Holdings signing in May of a 50-year, $261 million deal with the City of Midland to provide up to 28,400 acre feet – or 9.25 billion gallons – of municipal water per year.

Three aquifers are under the Belding property: the Edwards-Trinity (about 500-800 feet underground); the Rustler (1,000-1,500 feet); and the even deeper Capitan-Reef aquifer.

“The approved joint study will deploy full-on monitoring every 15 minutes on all three aquifers,” Edwards said. “It will allow us to ramp up data management so we can make decision based on actual data and science – not models – to make sure we have a long-term healthy aquifer.”

While historic data from as far back at 60 years ago shows that future pumping shouldn't draw down the aquifers, the monitoring will quickly reveal a dangerous drop that would trip threshold minimums and cease pumping.

The agreement has three phases, with the first set to start Oct. 1 and cover as many as 30 wells.

In other action, the board:

• approved the minutes of its Regular Meeting on May 19, 2020.

• approved the Treasurer’s Report for the month ending May 31, 2020.

• approved the tax abatement policy and guidelines.

• approved a 200-acre feet production permit for Gary Klose and Collin Wood.

• received a briefing, but took no action, on the 7D area, and continued Kent and Luna permit hearings.

• approved an engagement letter with Smith & Rives, PC, for its audit for the year ending Sept. 30, 2020.

• planned a rule-making hearing for August for proposed rule amendments regarding its Management Zone 1 boundaries and operating guidelines for water level differences between the South Coyanosa and Belding areas.

• approved renewal of production permit between Pyote Water Systems III and authorized export of of Alpha Water Resources, LLC and Fort Stockton Holdings, LP.

• received a briefing on the lawsuit between Cockrell Investments Partners, LP and the MPGCD. A status hearing is scheduled for July 27.

The board's next meeting will be July 14 using Zoom, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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