|(a) If the executive director concludes in the report
that the area studied is not a priority groundwater management area
(PGMA), no further action by the executive director or the commission
is necessary. However, any person may file a motion to overturn under §50.39
of this title (relating to Motion to Overturn).
(b) If the executive director recommends that the area
be designated a PGMA or added to an existing PGMA, or if the commission
overturns the executive director's conclusion in subsection (a) of
this section, the commission shall consider the executive director's
PGMA report and recommendations developed under §294.41 of this
title (relating to Priority Groundwater Management Area Identification,
Study, and Executive Director's Report Concerning Designation) using
the following procedures.
(1) The commission shall hold an evidentiary hearing.
On behalf of the commission, the executive director may refer the
evidentiary hearing directly to SOAH. At the evidentiary hearing,
the commission or the administrative law judge shall consider:
(A) whether the proposed PGMA should be designated
or added to an existing PGMA;
(B) whether one or more groundwater conservation districts
(GCDs) should be created within all or part of the proposed PGMA,
whether all or part of the land in the PGMA should be added to an
existing GCD, or whether a combination of these actions should be
(C) the feasibility and practicability of each GCD
recommendation. To determine the feasibility and practicability of
each GCD recommendation, the commission or the administrative law
judge shall consider:
(i) whether the recommended GCD can effectively manage
groundwater resources under the authorities provided in Texas Water
Code (TWC), Chapter 36;
(ii) whether the boundaries of the recommended GCD
provide for the effective management of groundwater resources; and
(iii) whether the recommended GCD can be adequately
funded to finance required or authorized groundwater management planning,
regulatory, and district-operation functions under TWC, Chapter 36.
(2) The evidentiary hearing shall be held in one of
the counties in which the PGMA is proposed to be located or in the
nearest convenient location if adequate facilities are not available
in those counties.
(3) The chief clerk shall publish notice of the evidentiary
hearing in at least one newspaper with general circulation in the
area proposed for PGMA designation. The notice must be published no
later than 30 days before the first date set for the hearing. Notice
of the evidentiary hearing must include:
(A) if applicable, a statement of the general purpose
and effect of designating the proposed PGMA;
(B) if applicable, a statement of the general purpose
and effect of creating a new GCD in the proposed PGMA;
(C) if applicable, a statement of the general purpose
and effect of adding all or part of the land in the proposed PGMA
to an existing GCD;
(D) a map generally outlining the boundaries of the
area being considered for PGMA designation or notice of the location
at which a copy of the map may be examined or obtained;
(E) a statement that the executive director's report
on the proposed PGMA is available for inspection during regular business
hours at the commission's main office in Austin, Texas, at regional
offices of the commission which include territory within the proposed
PGMA, and on the agency's website;
(F) the name and address of each public library, each
county clerk's office, and each GCD that has been provided copies
of the executive director's report; and
(G) the date, time, and place of the hearing.
(4) The chief clerk shall also mail written notice
of the date, time, place, and purpose of the hearing to the governing
body of each county, regional water planning group, adjacent GCD,
municipality, river authority, water district, or other entity which
supplies public drinking water, including each holder of a certificate
of convenience and necessity issued by the commission, and of each
irrigation district, located either in whole or in part in the PGMA
or proposed PGMA. This notice shall be mailed at least 30 days before
the date set for the hearing.
(5) The evidentiary hearing must be conducted within
75 days of the date that notice was provided under paragraph (3) of
this subsection. At the hearing, the commission or the administrative
law judge shall hear testimony and receive evidence from affected
persons, and consider the executive director's report and supporting
information. The commission or the administrative law judge may request
additional information from any source if further information is considered
necessary to make a decision. If the commission or administrative
law judge requests additional information, the parties will be allowed
to examine this information and present any necessary evidence related
to the additional information.
(6) If the hearing is remanded to SOAH, the administrative
law judge shall at the conclusion of the hearing, issue a proposal
for decision stating findings, conclusions, and recommendations. The
administrative law judge shall file findings and conclusions with
the chief clerk.
(c) The commission shall consider the findings, conclusions,
and recommendations determined from the evidentiary hearing. The commission
shall order one or more of the following actions.
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (3) of this subsection,
if the commission decides that an area should be designated as a PGMA
or adds the area to an existing PGMA, the commission shall designate
and delineate the boundaries of the PGMA.
(2) If the commission designates the area as a PGMA
or adds the area to an existing PGMA, the order must recommend that
the area be covered by a GCD by either creation of one or more new
GCDs, by addition of the land in the PGMA to one or more existing
GCDs, or by a combination of these actions. The commission shall give
preference to GCD boundaries that are coterminous with the boundaries
of the PGMA, but may recommend GCD boundaries based upon existing
political subdivision boundaries to facilitate creation of a GCD.
(3) If the commission does not designate the area as
a PGMA, the commission shall issue an order stating that the PGMA
shall not be designated.
(4) If the commission finds that a GCD created under
TWC, Chapter 36 would not be feasible or practicable for the protection
of groundwater resources in the PGMA, the commission may recommend
in its report to the legislature under TWC, §35.018, the creation
of a special district or amendment of an existing district's powers
(5) The designation of a PGMA may not be appealed nor
may it be challenged under TWC, §5.351 or Texas Government Code, §2001.038.