Elephant in the Water
Updated: Jan 24
Notice: If you live in the Bastrop or Lee County, please attend the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 7pm at Elgin City Hall. And, please sign this letter of support for their efforts.
LIV is watching (not stalking, we promise!) State Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) to see if he will make or break the full employment of the California Water Model in Texas. That is the disastrous policies of moving masses of water for real estate buildout in areas without adequate local supply. Remember, LA was once a desert,.
Perry said this at the recent Texas Tribune's event held in West Texas, "Rural Texas and the 88th Legislative Session":
"The one thing that's going to eliminate the Texas miracle, the only thing that's going to eliminate it, is access to water. Plain and simple." Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock)
What is the "Texas Miracle"?
We like this definition from this 2020 article in Texas Monthly:
"the regulatory and political system that greases the wheels of growth in the state."
Though we're ecstatic that Perry is listening to landowners impacted by Vista Ridge (aka the San Antone Hose), we will see how far this goes. There will likely be some mitigation funding plan. Good! It also appears that there will be a serious move to "save" our water from being lost to failing infrastructure -- serious conservation. Good! Perry's comments in hearings also make clear that there will be a move to ensure that water is priced closer to its actual value. We agree that determining the “true cost” of water helps lead to a more sustainable resource by incentivizing conservation and less waste.
But don't we Texans need to see some landowner protections that would also protect the future of the aquifers and rivers themselves? Legislation to give domestic and livestock wells a seat at the table when big production wells are permitted has been introduced for years and failed for years. The last time the failure was due to Perry's stonewalling. (See HB3619 here.) So far, Perry has not said he will support this legislation.
Texas House Water Caucus Comes Together
The Texas Water Foundation announced this new "bi-partisan" Texas House water caucus. That means water could be numero uno in this session. Check out in the release linked above the participation by D's, R's, and both factions within the GOP!
Caution: See who is on the board of the Texas Water Foundation, front and center – SAWS CEO and Vista Ridge water grabbing Robert Puente.
Auditing and Cutting Back Vista Ridge
At the November 16 Senate Water, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee Hearing, there was surprise invited testimony by Gary Westbrook, general manager of the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District (representing Milam and Burleson counties and the permitting authority for Vista Ridge), and Brazos Valley GCD general manager, Alan Day (representing Robertson and Brazos counties). The essence of their testimony boils down to this: "don't worry about Vista Ridge."
Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (who represents Burleson and Lee counties) appeared not to buy it. Watch the testimony for the deep dive here at 3:14:00.
The "G" and "S" words
Is there any question that the Texas economy is hooked on subsidizing greased-lightning growth? This explains why House Speaker Phelan announced he would not let Chapter 313 subsidies die. Everyone we know – especially independents -- is sick and tired of corporate subsidies. (Read LIV's Subsidizing Death of a Community.)
The Lege might take another look at the Texas miracle. Texans are already witnessing the Texas nightmare as Texas subsidizes growth to continue wooing 1,000 people per day to move here.
A four-year-old can figure out this is not sustainable, especially in the West.