The history of our Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District (BVGCD) reflects a lot of abuse and mistreatment of the landowners.
This abuse and mistreatment was orchestrated through secret meetings, decisions being made in private prior to public meetings and with no deliberation taking place in those public meetings. There were also open records act violations where directors were flagrantly violating the Texas Open Meetings Act. The result was a complete disregard of both State and Federal Constitutional protections of our property rights.
There have always been two common denominators in these meetings: Brazos County BVGCD Representatives, Tom McDonald and Kent Watson, with Watson and McDonald trading out as president and vice president etc. of the District.
McDonald and Watson, along with others, were using their secret meetings to control the decisions of the Water District Board. Of note were the infamous piano bar meetings, the El Alamo meetings, and, the “sub-committee meetings” of a “sub-committee” that was never formed in a public meeting and never reported to the BVGCD Board in a public meeting. These sub-committee meetings were secret, were never posted and were controlled by Watson and McDonald.
In spite of all that, Pete Brien as president and Alan Day as general manager recently managed to run an open and fair Water District. The District meetings were open to the public, were all posted and all deliberations were held in the open. The public was able to see how the Board reached their decisions, and as a result there were no complaints about the operation of the District. It was, as it should be, open and public. In that environment a fair rule was passed that treated municipalities (large and small), industry, and landowners fairly. Now a new board president from Brazos County has been elected and we almost immediately have another piano bar type secret meeting at the City of offices with some of the same past invitees attending. Apparently, Watson McDonald, and others influenced by the City of Bryan, don’t like rules that are fair.
Again the common denominators were Kent Watson, and Tom McDonald, along with the City of Bryan’s high-dollar anti-property rights water attorney. The reason for the secret meeting? To organize an opposition to the newly developed fair rule – a rule two years in the making that had no opposition until the day of the vote. It appears Watson, McDonald and the City of Bryan attorney decided that the fair rule was too fair in its recognition of a landowners (including municipalities and industry) ownership rights to the water beneath their land.
What is more telling was Kent Watson’s recent untrue comment at the January 14th Water District meeting. After Robertson County BVGCD Board member Bryan “Rusty” Russ questioned why there was a sudden change of position, Watson said that the public comment he heard at that meeting was what caused him to change his mind. Watson was acting like this board meeting was the first time he had heard anything about concerns regarding the new rule change. That statement was false and intended to hide the fact that Watson, McDonald and the City of Bryan’s contracted Austin attorney had just had a recent secret meeting with others, in Bryan, specifically to discuss a strategy to derail the vote on the new rule.
Landowners need to be aware that the City of Bryan does not respect your property rights and will do anything it can to maintain an upper hand in an effort to control the landowners’ water. Only time will tell what other underhanded tricks McDonald and Watson have up their sleeves.