Attention Farmers:  BMA sets earlier cut-off date for water orders… Sept. 15

By Anton Riecher

Customers who purchased allotments for agricultural irrigation with the Bexar-Medina-Atascosa Counties Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 have until Sept. 15 to submit orders water for the remainder of the year, BMA field manager Brian Sullivan said.

The district’s board of directors voted  Aug. 8 to advance the deadline two months due to the drought conditions, he said.

“We usually stop Nov. 15 because we always shut down in December and January for maintenance,” Sullivan said. “But given that we only sold 6,000 acre feet in the month of January, and there is not a whole lot of water still out there, the board decided to set an earlier cut-off date.”

The allotment for BMA landowners is normally 46,000 plus acre feet of water to irrigate nearly 33,000 acres of farm land. The water district uses an allocation system to guarantee water resources are equitably apportioned. 

“In a normal year, we sell January to November as long as our allotment of 46,000 acre feet lasts. With only a few hundred acre feet left to deliver, the board voted unanimously to stop orders September 15. There will be no refunds on unused balance,” Sullivan said.

In other business, the board voted to file with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for an extension on its permit to build a dam on Chacon Lake.The board approved a contract with a public finance underwriter in May to obtain funding for the construction.

The lake, on the southern end of the Medina Dam and Medina Diversion Dam irrigation system, has been an issue for BMA since 2007 when the TCEQ ruled that the concrete spillway to the lake’s earthen dam be torn down and replaced. 

The dam and spillway were subsequently removed.

The lake impounds water carried by Chacon Creek and surplus water from the Medina Canal, an irrigation channel supplied by water impounded upstream by the Medina Diversion Dam. The reservoir capacity is estimated at 2,000 acre-feet.

No action following an executive session that included a update on the district’s San Antonio Water System committee. SAWS has a contract with BMA for 19,974 acre feet of water for municipal use.

“We have a contract to sell them raw water but they haven’t used it in many, many years,” Sullivan said. “We still have a committee for when SAWS wants to discuss any type of activity or update.”

Also slated for discussion during the closed session was the settlement of a longstanding lawsuit with the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District. In June, on advice of counsel, the BMA board voted to accept a settlement in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, originally filed in 2015 by the Bandera authority, hinged on a lengthy dispute as to who has regulatory authority over land along Medina Lake that lies in Bandera County. The suit charges that BMA has no jurisdiction outside Bexar, Medina and Atascosa counties.

Specifically, the Bandera authority objects to the BMA being able to inspect private or public wells, enforce rules for groundwater or surface water, investigate alleged water well violations, issue rules relating to groundwater, and regulate easements owned or controlled by the BMA.

Also listed as a topic of discussion for the executive session was the Water Front Property Association, a group of homeowners on Medina Lake.