The Golden Hammer: RAW Requests Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District Order Special Election No Later Than July 23, 2018

Published in The Golden Hammer on March 23, 2018

CONROE, Texas — Property rights hero Simon Sequeira has asked the Lone Star Groundwater Conservative District (LSGCD) to hold a special election of Montgomery County voters to elect the entire LSGCD Board. It’s an issue critical to Montgomery County citizens who are sick and tired of paying high water bills.

Water bills have skyrocketed in Montgomery County primarily for two closely-related reasons. First, LSGCD has limited citizens’ use of their own groundwater by imposing strict and, according to geological and hydrological experts, totally unnecessary restrictions on the use of groundwater. Second, LSGCD’s restrictions have favored the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), which controls the LSGCD Board presently and is then able to force municipalities, property owners associations, and local water utilities to buy surface water instead of groundwater from none other than SJRA.

SJRA’s monopolistic practices and its monopolistic pricing have driven prices up by restricting water supplies and by forcing water retailers to purchase their water supply from SJRA. SJRA has used the massive water prices to pay for its exorbitant employee salaries, a palatial headquarters office that rivals many Las Vegas Hotel-Resorts, and the millions of dollars SJRA pays in legal fees to fat cat law firms that fight to protect its monopolistic water turf.

 This photograph is not the SJRA’s headquarters next to the Lake Conroe Dam, but SJRA’s Board Room is probably the closest structure in opulence in all of Montgomery County to this area of Las Vegas’ Wynn Resort. SJRA’s “Throne Room” should make Montgomery County citizens feel good, because they’ve paid for it in the high water bills that have resulted from LSGCD’s overregulation of citizens’ own groundwater that has forced private ground water owners to purchase surface water from SJRA instead.

This photograph is not the SJRA’s headquarters next to the Lake Conroe Dam, but SJRA’s Board Room is probably the closest structure in opulence in all of Montgomery County to this area of Las Vegas’ Wynn Resort. SJRA’s “Throne Room” should make Montgomery County citizens feel good, because they’ve paid for it in the high water bills that have resulted from LSGCD’s overregulation of citizens’ own groundwater that has forced private ground water owners to purchase surface water from SJRA instead.

Sequeira, who is President of Restore Affordable Water (RAW), earlier this week sent a letter to Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD) Board President Rick Moffatt, requesting LSGCD to operate in accordance with the law and order a special election to fill the soon-to-be-vacant LSGCD board positions. “We are asking the District to request the special election sooner rather than later so the voters of Montgomery County have ample time to decide who will best serve them on the LSGCD board,” Sequeira said. “Waiting to request the election at the last minute will be a disservice to prospective candidates and the residents they wish to serve.”

Formerly a nine-member appointed board, the LSGCD will now be a seven-member elected board due to legislation passed by the 85th Legislature. Though these seven members shall be elected in the general election on Election Day in November, LSGCD must still order a special election to allow prospective candidates on the ballot. RAW is requesting this election to be ordered no later than July 23, 2018, so prospective candidates are given adequate time to file applications by the filing deadline on August 23, 2018.

The letter from Sequeira to Moffatt reads as follows:

“As you know, HB 1982, passed in the most recent session of the Texas Legislature, alters the manner in which the directors of the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District are selected. Specifically, HB 1982 provides that the district’s board will be seven in number instead of nine, and will be elected rather than appointed. HB 1982, at Section 7A, indicates that directors serving as of August 31, 2017 shall serve until the director’s successor has qualified following the directors’ election held on the uniform election date in November 2018, which is November 6, 2018.

“It is the duty of the District to order this special election. Pursuant to the terms of Tex. Election Code Sec. 201.051(b), the election shall be ordered not later than the 78th day before election day, or August 20, 2018. Tex. Election Code Sec. 201.0054(f) provides that for a special election to be held on the date of the general election, the deadline for filing an application for a place on the ballot is 6 p.m. of the 75th day before election day, or August 23, 2018.

“Therefore, while LSGCD’s absolute deadline to order the election is August 20, 2018, if the District waits until that date to order the election, candidates would have only 3 days to file their applications for a place on the ballot. However, the District could order this special election before August 20, 2018, which would give prospective candidates a more adequate amount of time to file their applications.

“We respectfully request that the District order this special election no later than July 23, 2018 so that the candidates will have ample time to file application for a place on the ballot.”

Restore Affordable Water is an advocacy organization consisting of a group of Montgomery County residents, business owners, and community leaders who demand truth, transparency, and accountability from LSGCD. One of its Board members is Montgomery County’s “Sage,” Bill O’Sullivan.

ELIZABETH CUSTY