Friday, April 18, 2014

El Paso Needs a Water Summit

Rio Grande River Bed 
Former State Senator Eliot Shapleigh said the same thing that I've been saying for a long time now - viz., El Paso needs to have a major summit on water. 

"The flat truth is that EP farmers can no longer plant in most of the Valley due to an allocation of six inches," Shapleigh said. "Larger farmers are buying acre feet from smaller farmers mostly to keep pecan trees alive. Water tables are falling. Old wells from the 50's no longer touch available water."

What is required is major leadership - the kind that Senator Shapleigh gave us especially when he crafted a bill to do a Climate Change summit statewide - something Republican reactionary Dewhurst fought tooth and nail. (We don't want to upset our puppet masters in the oil and gas industry and industrial agriculture after all.)

The Texas Agriculture Law Blog shared a link to the Texas Water Report with this introduction: "Earlier this year, the Texas Comptroller’s Office put out the Texas Water Report.  This document provides a great overview of a variety of water issues currently going on in Texas.  It covers everything from current court cases to international treaty disputes to water ownership in Texas to the impacts of drought and the oil boom on water supplies.  If you are interested in Texas water issues, I would highly recommend reading over this report. . . "

Some major concerns remain: Will Texas actually have the will to address the stress on the water supply caused by fracking for oil and gas? Will Texas have the foresight to begin to promote small, independent, local, organic farmers? Will it have the foresight to regulate the use of water so that farmers will plant crops that don't require as much water? Will Texas promote green infrastructure/low impact development or continue spending billions of dollars on mega-reservoirs with lots of concrete? I'm afraid that Prop 6 money will benefit the large corporate firms and not thirsty citizens. 

El Paso also must deal with many of these water issues. But El Paso must also begin to limit sprawl. We have more land than water. Perhaps if developers and building contractors would begin to pay wages commensurate with the rest of the country, then they would have less to manipulate elections and elected officials. The higher wages would go far to spur a depressed El Paso economy so that sales taxes not property taxes could contribute more to financing city services. Infill would also mean that the financial resources of too many El Pasoans won't be drained by mortgages plus transportation plus energy demands. Again, infill would mean more people keeping more of their hard earned money and thus having more money to spend to help the economy. 

Water and the economy - they go hand in hand especially here in El Paso.

Time to listen to the Senator. Time for a water summit.

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