Water News Briefs–March 2010 RRL (Posted By Mike Mecke)

Following are news briefs as published in the March 2010 issue of Ranch & Rural Living. There are a few extra news items that didn’t make it into the magazine.

Language of Water Politics Often Murky

Feb. 17, 2010—Scott Stroud—San Antonio Express-News
If you’re out of the habit of talking to folks who study water policy for a living, meetings on its future in Texas can feel like they’re unfolding in a language you do not speak. You study people’s faces for signs: the knowing nods at phrases like “rule of capture” and “prior appropriation.” You hope  no one asks you a question.  But you can learn things if you’re patient, though you might have to do your own translating. And some of what you learn is alarming.  Such was the case at a two-day symposium on water at Trinity University, sponsored by Trinity, the San Antonio Peace Center and the Texas Drought Project.

Battle Over Water in Pecos County

Feb. 16, 2010— Eddie Garcia—CBS 7 News
Over the past 50 years, Pecos County and businessman Clayton Williams have been fighting a war over water.
“We have 32 wells, that averages about 2,000 gallons per minute.” Williams explained. That’s millions of gallons used to water his hay and alfalfa crops, steady work but no longer a cash cow.
“If you can’t make money then you have to do something else.” Williams tells us.
And Williams has a plan of grand proportions. He says, “I visualize a 30 inch pipeline that would take most of the water, not all of the water, to more less a spot between Midland and Odessa and we’ll divert it to whoever wants to buy it.”
According to Williams, it boils down to one thing, property rights.

El Paso’s Desalination Plant—Fresh Water Resource

Feb 13, 2010—KIVA
What’s a desalination plant doing in a city that’s hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean? Well, back in the 90s, concerns arose about the supply of El Paso’s fresh ground water. Christina Montoya of the El Paso Water Utilities Public Service Board says because of those concerns, the push was on to diversify, or look for many different sources of water. That source is the plant, which takes in brackish water, another type of ground water that’s much more plentiful.
Taking in this salty, brackish water allows what Montoya calls the world’s largest inland desalination plant to conserve fresh ground water in the Borderland.

Rain Brings An End to Texas Drought

Feb. 9, 2010—WFAA-TV Staff
Here’s some good news: All the rain has finally ended the drought in Texas.  Last year at this time, much of the state was suffering extreme or severe drought conditions.  The Texas map of drought conditions is almost completely clear, and the long-term National Weather Service forecast is calling for improvement in those parts of the state.

Lake Meredith Continues to Sink to Record Lows

Jan. 14, 2010— Elliott Blackburn—Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
PLAINVIEW – Drought could force Lubbock to siphon drinking supplies from the depths of its sole source of surface water by the end of the year, according to new estimates from reservoir managers. Lake Meredith, which for decades supplied most of the water used in Lubbock, began setting record lows Jan. 7, and continued to retreat this week. The northern Panhandle reservoir has not fallen so low since drought conditions in July 2008.
Agency directors have long expected the lake to drain below gates that feed water into its distribution system. Directors purchased special pumps and generators in 2009 to siphon water up into the lowest levels of the water system. The authority hopes to finish construction in time to have the system running in April.

Planning group discusses water shortage in Big Country

Jan. 12, 2010–Abilene Reporter-News (Registration Required)
Water shortages are no new topic in the Big Country, but projected shortages were discussed Tuesday night as the Brazos G Water Planning Group discussed the area’s water needs for the next 50 years. “Right now we’re enjoying water somebody planned for us to have 20 years ago,” said Jones County Judge Dale Spurgin, the group’s chairman . . .

Public input sought for El Paso county stormwater plan

Jan. 12, 2010–KVIA (ABC) Channel 7
El Paso, Texas – El Paso County and El Paso Water Utilities will have a public meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the development of a Stormwater Master Plan for the County of El Paso. The meeting will be El Paso Water Utilities, 1154 Hawkins, fourth floor boardroom. The Stormwater Master Plan is being funded jointly by El Paso County and the Texas Water Development Board . . .

Fastrill Reservoir remains long shot, authorities report

Jan. 11, 2010–Jacksonville Daily Progress
Conservation officials said the chances of the Supreme Court of the United States overturning Dallas’ bid to put a reservoir across Cherokee and Anderson counties are still exceptionally low. A spokesperson for the city of Dallas said consideration of whether the court will hear the case could come as early as Feb. 19.

Trinity Aquifer still unprotected

Jan. 12, 2010–New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung
Comal County Commissioners recommended forming a new three-county groundwater conservation district on Thursday, as they continue to work with the state to protect water within the Trinity Aquifer. Almost two-thirds of Comal County sits atop the Trinity, and those areas are the only piece of the Hill Country that lack a conservation district to manage and protect water resources.

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