It’s here: The big, ugly water bill

drought corn(Updated 5/3/2017: SB 1392 continues to be pending in committee.)

We’re been warning you about it, and now it’s here … SB 1392.

SB 1392 has so many bad provisions that it’s hard to know where to start, but here are a few of them:

  1. The bill abolishes the requirement that groundwater conservation districts balance production (i.e. pumping) with conservation. Instead, the bill establishes pumping and exporting groundwater as a priority for the state and for the so-called “groundwater conservation districts” (whose ability to conserve groundwater will be effectively abolished).
  2. It prevents groundwater conservation districts from considering the socioeconomic impacts of the “desired future conditions” they set (DFCs are how much they plan to drain the aquifer). The bill effectively pretends that drawing down our aquifers – which is nothing more or less than mining this vital resource – doesn’t have social and economic impacts on the communities that live above them.

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FARFA/Vista Ridge

FARFA is active in opposing Vista Ridge’s attempts to transfer massive amounts of water from Milam and Burleson Counties. The San Antonio Water System, limited in its ability to drain the aquifer beneath it thanks to the protections on the Edwards Aquifer, keeps trying to find other aquifers to enable massive development without the inconvenience of serious water conservation steps. Unfortunately, the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District has largely gone along with the demands of the water marketers to date.

 

However, in the hearing on March 28 on Vista Ridge’s request for a permit amendment, the Board did defer the decision to allow local landowners to present their questions and concerns. FARFA worked with the League of Independent Voters, Save Our Springs Alliance, and the local landowners (of which our own executive director, Judith McGeary, is one) to develop a briefing paper explaining the concerns and the questions to which Vista Ridge should be required to respond.…

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Texas Legislators Hold Water Hearings

Do you have views about Texas’ water resources that you’d like to share with state legislators? Now is your chance. Two committees are each holding interim hearings next Thursday, October 13, providing the perfect opportunity to share your experience and beliefs.

HEARING ONE: The House Agriculture Committee hearing will meet Thursday morning, starting at 9 am, to hear testimony on the following topic:

“Determine the sources of water used by Texans in the production of food and fiber, and examine the current water delivery methods and water conservation goals for agricultural use. Evaluate whether there are more efficient and effective water-usage management practices that could be employed in the agricultural industry, and determine the impact of crop insurance requirements on producers.”

HEARING TWO: The House Natural Resources Committee will start its hearing at 1 pm and cover several topics, the most important of which is to “examine the regional and state water planning process.”

The committee will focus on multiple aspects of the water plan, including the “interaction between the planning process and groundwater management” and “whether the ‘drought of record’ remains the appropriate benchmark for planning.”

Have you tried to be involved with the planning process and run into barriers?…

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No water, no farms, no food

 

Ensuring that farmers have reasonable access to water, now and in the future, is not a matter of protecting farmers’ business interests — it’s a matter of ensuring a safe and secure food supply for all of us.

The physical and legal issues surrounding water vary widely state-to-state.  FARFA’s work on water focuses on Texas.

Unfortunately, many Texas legislators believe that we don’t have a “supply problem,” but just a “distribution problem.” They are pushing to make it easier to transfer water from one area to another. In practical terms, this means taking water from rural areas to supply urban centers.

While some water transfers may be needed, all too often these rural-to-urban transfers are being used to avoid real conservation measures.  Average residential water usage ranges from 60 gallons to over 300 gallons per person per day in different parts of Texas. Many Texans could easily cut their water usage in half – or even lower – without any real hardship.…

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Texas Water Fights – Round Two

In the last Texas legislative session, legislators proposed a California-style scheme of massive water transfers around the state.  FARFA played a key role in defeating the proposed bill, but the issue is far from dead.  Legislators who see nothing wrong in using the power of the government to take water and land away from rural areas to promote unrestrained urban growth — at the expense of the children and grandchildren of both rural and urban areas — are already looking ahead to the 2017 legislative session.

On February 2, 2016, the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing about water marketing. Click here for FARFA’s post-hearing press release.

Out of the dozen invited witnesses, not a single one represented agricultural interests.

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FARFA’s executive director, Judith McGeary, submitted written testimony and testified briefly during the public testimony portion of the hearing.

During the hearing, Representative Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) repeatedly claimed that the current system wasn’t working because some areas and landowners would not agree to sell their water for export. …

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Texas Legislative Report

Over 6,000 bills were filed in the 84th Texas Legislative Session, creating a massive challenge even to monitor which ones could impact family farmers and local food producers.  Getting good bills passed meant fighting heavy odds; only about 1,300  bills actually passed and were signed by the Governor.

The local food movement achieved some important victories, both in passing good bills and in fighting bad ones, on issues ranging from community gardens to water.  There were also several disappointments, and many challenges left to work on during the next year and a half in preparation for the next session.  Each year, we build more strength to work for the changes we need.

Note: We have included the names, parties, and hometowns of all the legislators who sponsored these bills — both good and bad.  If your Representative or Senator is listed, please take a moment to call or email their offices and thank them or express your disappointment, as appropriate. 

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Water Fights

With your help, we succeeded in stopping the  bill to study how to create a “statewide marketing and conveyance grid” for water in Texas.  But the fight is not yet over!  The water marketers are seeking to attach the bill as an amendment to other bills over the Memorial Day Weekend —  we need your help again!

In practical terms, a statewide water marketing and conveyance grid will mean taking more water from rural areas to supply urban centers.  But average residential water usage ranges from 60 gallons to over 300 gallons per person per day in different cities in Texas.
cracked land and green lawn-1
Are perfect green lawns important enough to drain aquifers and destroy the future of rural communities and local food?

Ultimately, this approach hurts us all, by fueling unsustainable growth and using up the water resources we all need.   

Tell your Texas legislators that we must conserve first, transfer later
Oppose any amendment that focuses on water marketing and conveyances

TAKE ACTION

Call or email your State Representative today – the amendment could come up as the Sunday before Memorial Day!…

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