Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The High Plains Water District in Lubbock, TX is proposing some new rule changes in order to meet their new, "50/50" management goal - having 50% of their 2010 saturated thickness available for use in 2060.  And this goal comes from the much heralded Regional Water Planning Group process on-going all over Texas for the past 6 years or so. 

The district is proposing:  a 15 inch per acre allocation for all irrigation wells; designating areas declining faster than 4 feet in the last 5 years as high decline areas - with these areas being reduced an additional 5% in every year the water table declines exceed the allowable rate; mandatory metering; and a new, non-exempt well moratorium in high decline areas declining 4 feet per year or more.

Sound familiar?  This is eerily similar to what we have been working on in the SD-6 High Priority Area for the past several years, although the numbers and triggers are quite different.  I was hit also by the public comments provided by the Texas producers.  Quite frankly, sounds to me like the SD-6 folks were in attendance.  Some of the Texas comments (from the April, 2011 Cross Section) were:

“You got our attention…now step back and be reasonable.”

“I think the district should slow down and develop good rules, and consider the intended and unintended consequences. Allow us to learn how to apply the requirements before regulation.”

“We can pay now or pay later—but we are going to have to start paying toward water conservation if we’re
to pass anything on to the future... We’ve got to start controlling abuse of the natural resource.”

“Water banking is a good idea. If we put on 15 inches in a season and need two more inches to finish
a good crop but can’t because of restrictions and then lose the crop, that’s not efficient water use at all.”

“Treat everyone equally. Don’t punish the high decline areas when everyone in the district should conserve water as well!”

"The High Plains Water District plays an important role in water policy for this region. And while you may not agree with what is being presented here today, it is probably best to have local control rather than state or federal control of groundwater,”

“Farming is a free-enterprise, private property right. We bought the land, we know the risks, and should be allowed to pump as much water as we want. Otherwise, these rules amount to condemnation without compensation.”

"Consider a CRP program for water and pay producers not to pump for 50 years. Water is a commodity just like all the others.”

“I hate that the water situation has come to this point. I hope and pray that we can work something out that
will benefit all.”

Yep, we've heard these same comments (and more) in our SD-6 deliberations.  Generally, I think the SD-6 program is triggered earlier and is more restrictive, but it affects smaller areas of the district than does the Texas approach.  One of the take-aways of this process by the water district is the realization that the regulated public is not familiar enough with the rule making process - and this has been an issue.  Now that I think about it, this has been the case in our area as well.  I don't know what the High Plains District did in the way of PR in advance of their efforts, but I am positive our approach has been exceedingly open and well publicized.  I'll be watching their process closely.

No comments:

Post a Comment