Saturday, January 30, 2010

Federal Water Policy - Oh My!

Here we go again - discussing the pros and cons of a federal water policy.  This time at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. 

Some of the water experts present said that federal authorities should better use the influence they already have over how residents use water before they (the feds) look to expand it. 

Others said that a new layer of central control over water policies could lead to lumbering, reactionary management over a resource feeding the multibillion-dollar agribusiness driving Lubbock's economy.

Still others chimed in that federal legislation could override water planning Texas began more than a decade ago, and/or, focus on environmental demands instead of balancing the needs of industries that demand a water supply.  Yes, there was plenty of general opposition to the federal water policy idea in Texas that day.

A Texas Legislator opined that national farm and energy policies held clear recent examples of how easily a federal program could drain away the Ogallala - citing the ethanol push that inspired big crops of water-thirsty corn (ill-suited to most of the Ogallala) that basically forced farmers to use their water for economic gain.  Another example is the $38 million spent last year in Texas from the AWEP program to upgrade irrigation efficiencies.  Seems everyone but the feds know that in the closed High Plains Aquifer system improving irrigation application efficiency has been shown to have no effect on reducing consumptive water use.  Yeah, we need the feds in charge of water policy, all right!

But I still contend the most compelling reason not to move this way is simply a matter of logistics.  If you were opposed to your local water policy, would you rather try to change the minds of your local or state policy makers, or the Federal Government?  Perhaps the Texas Legislator said it best:  "If we were to wait for Congress to develop a national water policy, it wouldn't matter, because by the time they got done with it, the Ogallala wouldn't have any water anyway."  'Nuf said!

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