Kleptocracy is a government by people who use their power to steal their
(our communities’) resources.
In contrast to that selfish view, I have listened to the voters of all persuasions
who call themselves independents, as well as many Republicans and Democrats.
In Central Texas, all are concerned about the sustainability of our natural
resources and the ecosystems that depend on them. Add to these concerns the
concerns for the vitality of our rural communities who depend on the availability
of water and you are speaking to the entire community.
Our precious water supply and our land resources are ripe for the pickings by special interests that have a hold on both parties. Those with political connections -- some favored developers, road and home builders, engineering firms, and the like -- have moved in to HD17 like greased lightning.
Every day I hear from local residents about the stress this is putting on their lives and livelihoods. To put their concerns into perspective, consider that local groundwater pumping for cities like Bryan-College Station also occurs in the same aquifer that lies under HD-17.
Instead of keeping the water local and benefitting those landowners and their communities whose groundwater is being tapped, the communities of HD-17 adjacent to Bryan-College Station are being targeted. We must provide big-city, municipal water supply elsewhere, like San Antonio some 140 miles away!
The mass conveyance of water to areas without adequate local supply, I call the “California Water Model.” It is how a desert now known as Los Angeles came to be. One hundred years later they cannot reverse the disaster.
Today in Texas, drought is here, and right here in HD17. (Click on the drought map==>)
Our groundwater comes from a set of water-bearing formations called the Carrizo-Wilcox
Aquifer. The Wilcox “Group” of three deep formations below the Carrizo Aquifer, includes
one called the Simsboro. Every Tom, Dick and Harry water hustler (in and outside of
government) want their straws in this aquifer, primarily the Simsboro. We’re talking multiple
“mega-pumping” projects. Honest experts will admit we are already “mining” our aquifers
Vista Ridge, aka The San Antone Hose, is the biggest export project (16 billion gallons a year) completed in the Simsboro and Carrizo aquifers. The big, bad and now infamous project began damaging hundreds of landowner wells within the first six months of pumping, starting in April 2020. Mind you, this is a 60-year project!
The story of Vista Ridge is too long to tell you here. I hope someone writes a book about it to spill all the beans. For now, I refer you to the work of the League of Independent Voters of Texas parked on their water page: LIVTX.org/Big-Squeeze.
Here are my water solutions:
Achieve a better balance between development of groundwater and conservation; protecting established household and livestock wells that are essential to landowners and rural economies. Include their rights in the decision-making process for new or amended permits at the local Groundwater Conservation Districts.
Give local groundwater regulators (Groundwater Conservation Districts) the right to distinguish between local projects and export projects.
Cross-regional supply projects undermine the State Water Plan, which costs taxpayers approximately $17 million to produce every 5 years. Cross-regional supply projects, like Vista Ridge, should only be allowed when every other option has been examined. In other words, let's give the State Water Plan some teeth.
Get the LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority) out of the groundwater development business and return the Authority to its core mission of managing the water supply and environmental flows along the Colorado River.
Conduct a full review and audit of Vista Ridge, with an eye towards cutting back the project. Note: Days before Christmas in 2020 in the first round of COVID, it sickened me to see SAWS and the San Antonio City Council harass citizen petitioners with a frivolous lawsuit. Petitioners, including myself, were seeking the right to a public vote for an audit of Vista Ridge and accountability measures to end SAWS' obsession to be the water brokers for all of Central Texas. So all kind of Texas wrong!