In brief, the program is a means to promote water conservation around Texas and to involve local people directly in the decision-making of regional planning groups and indirectly in the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB). On that Board are a whopping three members from Brownsville, Austin and Beaumont. (None from West Texas.) They were all appointed by outgoing (finally) Gov. Rick Perry which should tell you a lot. The membership on the Region E (which includes El Paso) Planning Group is a bit deeper. A list of that group's voting members can be found HERE. Non-voting members are HERE.
The Texas Water Development Board has extensive responsibilities and power. They collect the data from regional water plans and formulate the Texas State Water Plan every 5 years. With the passage of Proposition 2 - the State Water Implementation Fund, the Board's influence over Texas water policy dramatically increased. Proposition 2 formed SWIFT by taking $2 Billion from the State's rainy day fund (how ironic) to be loaned out for water projects. I voted against this proposition because I saw it trying to conserve water the wrong way - more big holes and concrete dams around the Lone Star State - money in the pockets of huge corporate contractors for the most part. With Perry's three member board administering the fund, you know that the voices of just local folk are going to be muted which was the case when the TWDB had a work session in El Paso in May. That's where the Water Captains program comes in.
What is ingenious about the program is that it harnesses the power of local faith-based communities to disseminate information about water conservation and to find regional "armies" of folk who can help shape regional water planning. Nine of us met with Sam yesterday at the Columban Mission Center (MAP) to learn more about the program. We plan to meet there again on December 16th at Noon. If you are interested, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our goal is to get ready for a visit to the next Regional Water Planning Group meeting to be held in Alpine, Texas on Thursday, Februrary 12, 2015 at 1:30 PM.
One doesn't have to be a member of a faith-based community to get involved. At our meeting yesterday I knew that there was one person who was not such a member but nevertheless has an extensive network of "just folk" whose voices should be heard. However, working through faith groups can be very powerful. I have often wondered how those of us interested in the environment and conservation in El Paso can best get our message to El Pasoans as a whole. Water Captains may be an excellent template.