Protecting the drops we drink: Who owns Texas water?

The Eagle, January 17, 2017

As Texas population continues to increase, so will demands for water. The answer to the question of who owns Texas water will continue as a point of argument.

Water availability has become such a critical issue that many statewide meetings, legislation and court cases revolve around the subject. A recent state-wide conference, devoted to water, was the Texas Section Society of Range Management annual meeting held in Uvalde. The opening remarks presented by Charles Porter addressed the question of water ownership.

Porter suggested looking at three geological water containers – natural surface, diffused surface and groundwater – to determine ownership. Each container has different ownership and regulations.

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Environmentalists skeptical of Ike Dike

Houston Chronicle, January 5, 2017

GALVESTON – Plans for building a massive storm-surge protection system for the Houston area are rushing ahead before officials determine whether the project could harm Galveston Bay, environmental groups say.

The Sierra Club and the Galveston Bay Foundation, the environmental groups most closely watching the planning process, worry that there’s been too much focus on how to build the so-called Ike Dike and not enough on its impact on the bay.

“The Ike Dike has gained traction and local government support,” said Scott Jones, spokesman for the Galveston Bay Foundation. “We understand that, but we don’t think the environmental questions have been answered.”

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opinion

Walker and Spencer: Include needs of wildlife in Texas’ water plans

Trib Talk, November 2, 2016

No one needs to tell Texans that water is a big deal — we know it in our bones. After enduring the drought that stretched from 2011 to 2015, we also know that planning for our future water needs is an urgent matter.

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is in the process of revising the rules governing water planning. This is a big deal too. If we don’t manage our most precious resource carefully Texas faces a future of constricted growth, economic decline and a diminished natural heritage.

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Eco-activists seek LCRA water models. Suit aims to protect freshwater flow into the Gulf of Mexico.

Austin American Statesman, October 19, 2016

A Houston nonprofit sued the Lower Colorado River Authority on Wednesday to get copies of computer-based water models the utility uses.

The suit, filed by the Matagorda Bay Foundation in state district court in Austin, is the latest effort by coastal interests to protect the flow of freshwater into the Gulf of Mexico.

The foundation, headed by a prominent Texas environmental attorney, claims that the LCRA has withheld public information — specifically hydrologic models. Representing environmental and fishing interests, the foundation says in its suit that it wants to ensure that Colorado River water makes its way down to the Gulf.

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Denver starts South Platte River revival: water in works, focus on fish survival

Denver Post, September 1, 2016

Denver’s dreams of a South Platte River with plenty of water and healthy fish advanced this week as utility officials and state biologists unveiled details of a project to revitalize a 40-mile urban stretch.

The Denver Water and Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials said they’ve obtained 2,100 acre-feet of water that they will use strictly for environmental purposes. They plan to release the water at the Chatflield Reservoir choke poing — a supply equal to what 4,200 households typically use in a year.

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opinion

Paciorek and Stokes: Can Texas get desalination right?

July 15, 2016

Despite numerous logistical challenges, desalination of ocean water does hold real promise for Texas as a supplement to existing water supplies. The real issue is whether state rules for development of desalination plants will provide sufficient protections for our bays and coastal wildlife.

Sometimes it seems Galveston Bay can’t buy a break. During the 2010–2015 drought, the vital flow of fresh water from our rivers and bayous to our bay slowed to a trickle, imperiling commercial fisheries and wildlife as salinity levels rose. In recent months, we have seen the opposite. Historic floods have upset the balance of fresh and salty water that most bay creatures depend on, killing oysters with too much fresh water and washing tons of pollutants into the bay.

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