Back to All Events

“Texas Groundwater Protection Committee and Abandoned Water Wells”

Cary L. Betz, P.G., Manager of Permit Support, Compliance and Groundwater Section, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

House Bill 1458 sponsored by Representative Lena Guerrero in the House and Senator Santiesteban in the Senate, was passed by the 70th Legislature in 1989, set out the state’s groundwater protection policy, and created the Texas Groundwater Protection Committee (TGPC) in Chapter 26 of the Texas Water Code. Since that time, the TGPC has implemented the state’s policy of non-degradation of the state’s groundwater resources by coordinating groundwater protection activities of the agencies represented on the Committee, developing and updating a comprehensive groundwater protection strategy for the state, studying and recommending to the legislature groundwater protection programs for areas in which groundwater is not protected by current regulation, and publishing a joint groundwater monitoring and contamination report. Abandoned water wells have been a major concern to the TGPC for many years, as they are a threat to groundwater and public safety. Abandoned wells provide a direct channel for pollution of the aquifer below, through the direct introduction of contaminants with no opportunity for natural filtration by soils or geologic materials. The TGPC continues to advocate for enhanced groundwater protection through abandoned well plugging and educational outreach.

Cary began his career with the Texas Water Commission’s Water Quality Division in 1989, after working several years in the private sector for an engineering firm specializing in land development and municipal projects. In 1991, he was tasked with building a team to conduct Groundwater Impact Evaluations for Wastewater Permits.

When the agency became the TNRCC, Cary and his team were reorganized into the Groundwater Assessment Section. There, he served in various capacities, focusing primarily on statewide groundwater monitoring and Edwards Aquifer issues. In 2007, Cary assumed the role of the Executive Director’s personal representative to the interagency Texas Groundwater Protection Committee, where he serves as the designated chairman.

Cary was recently appointed Manager of the newly created Permit Support, Compliance and Groundwater Section in TCEQ’s Water Availability Division where he oversees groundwater protection and surface water rights compliance programs. He is a member of the federal Advisory Committee on Water Information’s (ACWI’s) Subcommittee on Ground Water (SOGW) that has developed a national groundwater monitoring program. Cary has also been actively involved with the national Ground Water Protection Council, serving on their Water Quality Division Oversight Group and chairing their Aquifer Storage and Recovery Task Force.

Locally, he represented the TCEQ during the development and implementation of the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program (EARIP), and is serving on the Williamson County Conservation Foundation’s Adaptive Management Committee and the Georgetown Salamander Adaptive Management Working Group.

For Cary, serving Texas and Texans is an honor. He is a sixth generation native Texan from Houston, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geoscience from University of Texas at Austin. He is a licensed Professional Geoscientist in the state. When not at TCEQ, Cary splits his time between his family’s newest generation of Texans, working in the rapidly growing Texas wine industry, and doing preservation work on the battleship U.S.S. Texas.