Brazos River Water Grab
by Ed Lowe, Friends of the Brazos River
Friends of the Brazos River
For Immediate Release
Friends of the Brazos River Praises Recommendation for Denial of BRA’s Proposed Water Grab
Judges for the State Office of Administrative Hearings have recommended denial of a request by the Brazos River Authority (BRA) to take an additional billion gallons of water per day from the Brazos River. In the October 17 decision, the two judges determined that BRA's approach would violate Texas law. Their recommendation will go to the Commissioners of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for a final ruling.
“The recommendation is a great step forward for protecting our rivers, streams and lakes,” said Ed Lowe, President of Friends of the Brazos River (FBR). He added, “But it is not done yet.”
A final decision on the matter will be made in early 2012 by the three TCEQ Commissioners, who are appointed by the Governor. The Commissioners are not obligated to accept the administrative judge's recommendations. FBR is joined by Dow Chemical, a number of farmers, and the National Wildlife Federation in opposing BRA's proposed water right.
The Texas Constitution puts all surface water in a trust for the public, and makes the state, not BRA, the trustee. According to FBR's attorney, Rick Lowerre of Austin, the Brazos River Authority is asking the TCEQ Commissioners to change Texas water law and set a new policy for who controls the public's water.
Texas law has always allowed people who can show a specific need to use state water by obtaining a water right. The law requires that water be for a purpose beneficial to the public good.
“The state has used its surface water to promote economic development, but it requires a clear benefit to the people of Texas.” said Lowe. “The terms of the request from BRA would change that. If what the state has been doing is going to change, it is the Texas Legislature, not TCEQ, who should decide that.”
Ed Lowe added, “BRA wants a "blank check" - to get essentially the rest of the public's water in the entire Brazos River basin and then tell us later how it will be used. BRA is saying "Trust us" to do what is right for Texas, for fish and wildlife, for fishing and boating, and for protecting property rights of river and lake front landowners and the economic value that rivers and lakes provide to our rural communities.”
BRA is asking that it be able to sell an additional one million acre feet of water per year, or about one billion gallons of water per day. BRA currently has about 700,000 acre feet of water, almost all of which is sold.
Joe Williams, Vice President of the Lake Granbury Waterfront Owners Association, joined Lowe in praising the judges, saying, “We do not trust BRA and should not be asked to do so.” The Owners Association convinced the Hood County Commissioners Court and the City of Granbury to pass resolutions opposing BRA's proposal until BRA indicates what it will do with the water and until completion of studies of the impacts on others who use the Brazos River and its lakes. Williams added, “BRA wants to create its own water bank, where it will have a monopoly for the sale of water in the Brazos basin. BRA could then set the price or simply sell water to the highest bidder, without regard to the impacts on others.”
Lowe concluded, “It is time for all Texans to stand up and tell their elected officials to say "No" to BRA's proposal to change how Texas gives away the public's water. We need to make sure that our water is available for the benefit of future Texans, to protect the ecological integrity of our river system, and to provide recreational opportunities.” He added, “If TCEQ upholds BRA's request, river authorities on all the other rivers in Texas will likely ask for the same.”
Contact: Ed Lowe, ELowe@celebrationrestaurant.com, 214-351-5681, 214-802-6811
Web site: Friends of the Brazos