A critical decision about the rights of landowners who do not want to sell their water, is coming to a head at a specially called meeting of the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District next Wednesday evening at 7 pm at the Bastrop Convention Center PLEASE NOTE THAT THE LOCATION OF THIS MEETING IS NOW AT THE AMERICAN LEGION IN GIDDINGS, 1502 US 77, Giddings, Texas.
The Central Texas groundwater war, radiating from four rural counties down the IH-35 growth corridor to San Antonio, is getting lots of coverage these days. But the most important voices seem to be missing. They are the hundreds of landowners in Lee and Bastrop counties who are coming out to meeting after meeting of the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District and putting out “Stop the Water Grab” yard signs. And they are the thousands of landowners in 21 additional Texas counties, including Bexar, who are fighting development over their sensitive Edwards Aquifer watershed.
Michele Gangnes is a Lee County landowner, water activist and attorney who sits on the board of the new non-partisan, non-profit League of Independent Voters of Texas. On Labor Day, Gangnes filed hard-hitting comments with the Texas Water Development Board on the agency’s rules for disbursements of funds under Prop 6, the water constitutional amendment passed by Texas voters in 2013. Gangnes said, “The SAWS project currently does not qualify for Prop 6, but it’s an example of the mega-projects to feed growth that TWDB will prioritize under its new rules. Ten years ago SAWS wisely decided not to drain our Simsboro aquifer and not to saddle its ratepayers with too expensive water, electing conservation instead. But they never stopped looking for more water, because San Antonio won’t stop enabling development in areas without enough water of their own.”
Annalisa Peace is the Executive Director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, which represents landowners in 21 central Texas counties, including Bexar County. Peace said, “GEAA especially objects to the prospect of depleting one aquifer in order to impair another. The members of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance oppose the Vista Ridge project due to SAWS commitment to use these new supplies to expand service and encourage high-density development on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge and contributing zones.”
A recent article in the respected Rivard Report by Dr. Curtis Chubb, a scientist/journalist/landowner in Milam County, examined SAWS’ plan to buy water from The Vista Ridge Consortium, a partnership of Spain-based Abengoa Water and Austin-based Blue Water Systems. Blue Water has permits for the Simsboro and Carrizo portions of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer under Burleson County. Dr. Chubb made the case the Simsboro under Burleson and Milam counties, which most observers expect will supply the Vista Ridge water, cannot sustain the 16 billion gallons a year project. Meanwhile, Lee and Bastrop countians are trying to protect their portion of the Simsboro from two additional mega-projects.
Central Texans are organizing a series of events over the coming weeks to bring Texans together across the region and across partisan lines to preserve our most precious resources – our water and the land that depends on it.