Thursday, December 18, 2014

TWDB May Do Much Good but Does It Always Tell the Truth?

The Perry appointed Texas Water Development Board may do much good with the dispersal of SWIFT (State Water Implementation Fund for Texas) funds, but does it always tell the truth?

Daniel Borunda reported in a story in today's El Paso Times that TWDB Chariman, Carlos Rubenstein, said at a meeting at El Paso's TecH20 center yesterday that "state funding will pump millions into water projects in the region the chairman of the Texas Water Development Board said Wednesday during a meeting in El Paso."

Borunda also wrote that "John Balliew, the president and chief executive officer for El Paso Water Utilities, said EPWU will seek SWIFT support for an expansion of the Jonathan W. Rogers Water Treatment Plant, an advance purification system to turn waste water into high-quality drinking water and systems to capture "tail water" or unused water."

All of the above is good. Read the Times story. Judy Ackerman emailed me these notes about the high points of yesterday's meeting:

"About 50 attendees including Jesus “Chuy” Reyes, Edward Drusina (IBWC Commissioner), Pat Gordon (Rio Grande Compact Commissioner).

"Senator Rodriguez introduced the only speaker:  Carlos Rubinstein, Chairman of the TX Water Development Board.  

"The main point was how to apply for SWIFT $s, who can and when.

"In his opening remarks, Rubinstein mentioned the Rockefeller Resilience award given to El Paso - kudos.   He said “No issue is more important to TX than water.”  The State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) will “ensure water for 50 years.”

"By legislation, they must use At Least 20% of the funds on Conservation and Reuse (which includes lining of irrigation canals and municipal water line losses).  At Least 10% of funds must go to Rural communities and agriculture.
They are working on the issue of assigning capital costs to conservation.  (what is the dollar value of water lost to seepage in open irrigation ditches, etc.)

"Sierra Club is in the conversation with TWDB on conservation issues.

"Sen Rodriguez’s question:  what about Fracking and water use? 
Answer:  Statewide, fracking uses only 1% of TX water.  Expect frackers to use more brackish water.  Frackers may receive “incentives” to reuse their water.

"TWDB hosts meeting for innovative ideas on water and they are always packed."

The emphasis on fracking is mine. If Rubenstein and the rest of the TWDB believe that fracking only uses 1% of Texas water, he and they are either not telling the truth or they are misinformed, deceived or having pipe dreams. Because of the incestuous relationship that Texas Republican government has with big oil, I unfortunately believe that they are not telling the truth and are attempting to deceive us.

Read my two posts about the math of fracking water consumption HERE and HERE

Coincidentally to yesterday's TWDB meeting, Governor Cuomo of New York announced that his state was banning fracking because of health and environmental concerns. Also yesterday, Politico ran this report about the Texas energy revolt especially in Denton, Texas which banned fracking in a vote last November. 

I'm sure that Senator Rodriguez's question to Rubenstein was inspired by elpasonaturally's exposure of plans by Torchlight Energy Resources to frack on the Diablo Plateau (part of the same ecosystem as the Otero Mesa) mere miles beyond Hueco Tanks and the city limits of El Paso.

Keep in mind that El Paso Water Utilities may sooner than later be importing water from that plateau in Hudspeth County. We have to ask how Torchlight or any other fracker will pollute that groundwater. The TPWD should be asking the same question and, rather than enabling the fracking industries destruction of the scarce commodity of water, it should be fighting it. Unfortunately, big oil elects governors of Texas along with Railroad Commissioners, Land Commissioners and governors appoint the TWDB members.

Be sure to read a November press release by TWDB announcing the adoption of the final rules for the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT). Be sure to click on the links on the bottom of the release and read the information.

BTW a group of El Pasoans involved in the Texas Water Captains initiative met on Wednesday at the Columban Mission Center.


  1. Leaving aside the fracking issue, there are still many unanswered questions about "purified waste water." How will EPWU remove trace elements of the drugs people consume and excrete? The current Economist has an article on the vast amounts of plastic in the oceans, much of it in tiny particles that sewage treatment does not remove (think volumizing shampoos, for example). How much of that will be in the new source of drinking water?

    As for the Diablo Plateau source, even if left untouched by fracking, what will EPWU do when that fossil water is exhausted? Was there ANY mention of the possibility that we cannot continue to expand the population in the Pass of the North and West Texas?

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