Aquifer feeding Plains shrinks

Longview News Journal, August 11, 2014

The chief underground water source for irrigating the agriculture-rich Texas High Plains is depleting at a pace that some fear will exhaust it far more quickly than anticipated.

Records examined by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal show the Ogallala Aquifer has dropped about 325 billion gallons every year for at least the past four decades, meaning the 40-foot decline in the water supply amounts to about a foot each year.

But at least two Texas counties west of Lubbock – Parmer and Castro – have plunged more than double that amount – 100 feet.

Here’s 5 Challenges to Texas Water That Might Surprise You

State Impact Texas, June 27, 2014

With nearly 70 percent of the state still stuck in a drought that has dragged on for years, there’s been plenty of talk about how to strengthen water supplies in Texas. A multi-billion-dollar water fund (the passage of Proposition 6 last election) is in the works that will help fund projects like reservoirs, desalination and conservation. And there’s ongoing discussion and debate about the elephant in the aquifer: ways to change how groundwater is regulated, which took up a whole day of testimony at the state legislature this week. But that’s not all.

Beyond those two big-ticket items — how to pay for water supplies and how to regulate water underground — there are some other smaller challenges the state faces when it comes to water. At a hearing by the House Natural Resources Committee Thursday, several state agencies told lawmakers about the water challenges they’re dealing with. 

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Legislators weigh possibilities of expanding water desalination

Dallas Morning News, June 16, 2014

Key lawmakers met Monday to examine whether expanding desalination — removing salt from brackish or ocean water to make it safe for drinking — can be used for the state’s deepening water needs.

Lawmakers learned it could be prohibitively expensive to use ocean water for thirsty cities but will use a series of hearings throughout the state to learn more about its potential.

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San Antonio Water System Backpedals on Right Choice – Still Considering Groundwater Importation Project

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March 14, 2014

Last month, the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club praised staff at the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) for recommending to their Board that the focus of future water supplies for the city should rest on nearby brackish groundwater, rather than the importation of fresh groundwater from locations distant of the city.    Unfortunately, the […]

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Partners in Conservation of the Edwards Aquifer

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March 05, 2014

Earlier this year, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell presented the Department’s 2013 Partners in Conservation Awards to 20 partnership projects that demonstrate “exemplary natural resource conservation efforts through public-private cooperation”.  Among the recipients of this year’s award was the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program (EARIP) participants, including us, the Texas Living Waters Project. Much has […]

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Water Cost Savings Seen

San Antonio Express News, February 7, 2014

SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Water System will ask its board of directors to abandon proposals to pipe in billions of gallons of water from outside the area, its CEO confirmed Thursday, and instead expand a desalination plant.

SAWS will begin construction this year on a facility to desalinate brackish water in southern Bexar County that could work in conjunction with CPS Energy, which wants to add a natural-gas-powered plant, SAWS CEO Robert Puente said.

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Below the Surface

Texas Monthly, February 4, 2014

THE LEGISLATURE WAS LOOKING IN THE WRONG PLACE WHEN IT TRIED TO SOLVE THE STATE’S WATER CRISIS.

When Governor Rick Perry signed a landmark water-funding bill last May, he looked and sounded like a confident leader. “This is making history,” he said about the legislation, which would divert $2 billion of the state’s burgeoning oil-and-gas severance taxes toward low-interest loans for cities and water utilities. “We’re securing the future of our great state by making sure that Texas has the water it needs for decades to come.” He did not add, “As long as you all think that’s a good idea,”

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Rio Grande Water Users Fear Groundwater Pumping Project

Texas Tribune, January 29, 2014

A controversial groundwater pumping plan that opponents argue could threaten the lower Rio Grande’s already depleted supply is highlighting a conundrum in Texas water law.

Texas rivers and springs are considered the property of the state, while water flowing below ground belongs to individual landowners. But many of the state’s surface water resources, from Barton Springs to the Guadalupe, Colorado and Brazos rivers, are fed in large part by groundwater.

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SAWS Wants to Own Water it Puts into the River

San Antonio Express News, January 16, 2014

SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Water System wants to take ownership from the state of the billions of gallons of treated wastewater the utility releases into the San Antonio River every year.

SAWS believes it can lay claim to the water since it paid to pump it from the Edwards Aquifer or another source and later discharged the treated water into the river. But once in the river, it’s considered surface water, making it the property of the state.

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Edwards Aquifer Plan Gets High Honor at Turbulent Time

Texas Tribune, January 16, 2014

A plan developed by officials across south-central Texas to balance the interests of millions of the state’s water users with a federal mandate to protect endangered species has received a high-profile award. But the plan may not succeed if the most severe drought in recent memory continues.

The coveted Partners in Conservation Award is given personally by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to only a few recipients nationwide each year. But those who worked on the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Plan, which was approved in 2013 after several years of work, are accepting the honor at what may be the most turbulent time for the aquifer and the authority that regulates it since 1993.

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