Water

Despite a wet year in Texas, the state could be on the verge of another massive drought event and must begin innovating in its water conservation efforts.

That’s the opinion of Texas District 122 Rep. Lyle Larson, chairman of the Texas House Natural Resources Committee and keynote speaker at the 17th annual Bell County Water Symposium held Wednesday on the Texas A&M University-Central Texas campus.

Larson’s address, titled “Water planning and implementation in Texas, now or never,” highlighted the state’s previous catastrophic droughts in the 1950s and 2011, and the state’s continued inability to prepare for the future.

Larson said Hurricane Harvey, which dumped nearly 34 trillion gallons of water on the Texas Gulf area, provided nearly eight years of capturable drinking water for the state — but was largely squandered by poor preparation.

“What did we do with that water?” Larson asked. “We let it run back to the Gulf. We didn’t really capitalize on that gift.”

Among the initiatives Larson said he supported was aquifer storage and recovery — or ASR — in which surface water is injected into existing aquifers and stored for future use.

Larson, a representative from San Antonio, highlighted the city’s expanding ASR program and other initiatives throughout the country.

“In this area, there’s a lot of a different ways you could do it,” Larson said. “I think this is the future of the state of Texas. You don’t plan two years from now — you plan 50 years from now.”

The keynote speech was part of a daylong program hosted by the Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District that discussed the state of Bell County water rights and the government and private players involved in the area’s future water needs.

Prior to Larson’s address, David Collinsworth with the Brazos River Authority discussed the challenges facing water purchasers along the Interstate 35 corridor — where the population is expected to grow exponentially over the next 100 years.

“There’s no water on the I-35 corridor,” Collinsworth said. “People keep moving where the water is not.”

Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1, the city of Killeen’s sole wholesale drinking water provider, contracts with the authority for water rights on Lake Belton and Stillhouse Hollow Lake.

Fights over water access have already ensnared area counties.

Bell County officials and residents are still pushing a lawsuit, fighting the city of Georgetown’s 2015 takeover of the Chisholm Trail Special Utility District, which will limit Bell County’s ability to sell water in its southern corridor without court intervention.

Despite increasing demand for water and the possibility of water fights in the future, Collinsworth was hopeful.

“I get asked all the time, ‘are we going to run out of water in Texas?’” Collinsworth said. “My answer is no — if we manage our water supplies effectively.”

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

(1) comment

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.

Everything centers on the latest Hurricane Harvy and it's destructive potential.

Copy: 'Larson said Hurricane Harvey, which dumped nearly 34 trillion gallons of water on the Texas Gulf area, provided nearly eight years of capturable drinking water for the state — but was largely squandered by poor preparation.'
Continuation of copy: “What did we do with that water?” Larson asked. “We let it run back to the Gulf. We didn’t really capitalize on that gift.” End of copy.

But it is not as simple as it's led to believe.

When you start talking about transference of water being captured and injected into an aquifer, you have to also think about surface contaminants that if injected would not only be a surface contaminants, but contaminant the acquirer. Plus if you did solve the problem of contamination of surface water, Hurricane Harvey dumped the nearly 34 trillion gallons of water onto a relatively small area of the surface, it dumped it almost 'all at once'. And as such, it caused massive damage to the respective areas to the tune of over $100 billion dollars in destruction to peoples homes and businesses, caused destruction of electrical power supplies and refining capacity, which in turn created havoc not only in the Southwest areas, but to a varying degree, nationwide.

Copy: “There’s no water on the I-35 corridor,” Collinsworth said. “People keep moving where the water is not.”
Continuation of copy: 'Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1, the city of Killeen’s sole wholesale drinking water provider, contracts with the authority for water rights on Lake Belton and Stillhouse Hollow Lake.'
Continuation of copy: 'Fights over water access have already ensnared area counties.'
Continuation of copy: 'Bell County officials and residents are still pushing a lawsuit, fighting the city of Georgetown’s 2015 takeover of the Chisholm Trail Special Utility District, which will limit Bell County’s ability to sell water in its southern corridor without court intervention.' End of copy.

I do not believe the answer is to continue to let the PUC, as it now stands, have control over what can be done by the many, or to say it differently, 'singular control by the few over the rights of the many'.

When the control over water as an example is set in the hands of the few, there will eventually be problems, such as the case resulting in the few having control over water rights that should be for the many, but it was and is 'not to be', as evidenced by the case now pending. And it should not be a case that is decided in the courts because water, the source of life, should be for everybody, not the few.

But when it becomes embroiled in the courts, the powerful, the few, usually win over the the many. Such is the case of Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1. In this case, I believe people do not have control over their water rights. Do not have a voice in what decisions that are made, as in this recent case of only 2 or 3 individuals had the power and control to exercise what to be done for the many, and conversely, the takeover of the Chisholm Trail Special Utility District.

'Never have so few been in control of the many', speaking of, in this case, of water.

Copy: 'Bell County officials and residents are still pushing a lawsuit, fighting the city of Georgetown’s 2015 takeover of the Chisholm Trail Special Utility District, which will limit Bell County’s ability to sell water in its southern corridor without court intervention.' End of copy.

And in this case, it will just be magnified.

And the bond indebtedness of the many is contained in the hands of the few as exemplified by the 10 MGD water plant infrastructure facilities. Now that in my opinion is a classic example of' the few exercising control over the many. Water is a commodity that should be for the use of everyone and there should not be control as evidenced by the few, but enjoyed by everyone, but with restrictions,

But it is a problem that is not insurmountable. As discussed earlier, water that is to retrieved and pumped into aquifers must be checked for any and all surface contaminants to prevent these contaminants from entering the aquifers and damaging these zones. Water should be delivered on a proportional basis, not for the few, but equally for everyone. And there lies the rub, not everyone would agree with this previous statement.

As stated, ' Hurricane Harvey, which dumped nearly 34 trillion gallons of water on the Texas Gulf area', and in a relatively short period of time. What is going to be done for that volume of water, in such a short period of time, to be captured and delivered for future retention. There is the rub. How do we collect and capture for future use this water.

To be continued.

This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
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