workers, being a large part of the economy of South Texas, are a basic component of the problem of poverty. “After all, when one-fourth of the city’s population is made up of low-paid farm workers, anyone can see how it influences the economy and social life of the community,” says Jose L. Gonzalez, director of the Laredo-Webb County health department. Gonzalez says that even the stray dog problem becomes acute when migrants leave. “They usually close up their houses and let their pet dogs loose, so we nearly always have a stray dog problem around April or May.” Although Webb County has a large migrant worker population, Hidalgo and Cameron counties in the Rio Grande Valley have the largest in Texas. Crystal City ecomes a deserted town when the migrant workers leave. More than half of its 9,000 population is made up of migrant workers. Mechanization of crop harvesting has After piecemeal revelation of its contents to luncheons of businessmen, boosters, and the Texas Democratic delegation to Congress \(Sen. Tower thumbed through water plan is now before the people in a Reader’s-Digest style condensation which emphasizes its current vagueness and incompletion. The yellow-covered 32-page press release has also proved to be a horror story to the people west of the 99th parallel, because all that it contains for them is a page of conciliation and reassurance in which some pretty far-out schemes are proposed as the means to keep Lubbock, Midland, and the other far-west cities from vanishing under the dunes. What happens next is this: The Texas Water Development Board will publish, presumably beginning next week, the first of its basin studies which will offer data for use at 25 basin hearings it plans to conduct starting June 20. After that, the real plan, a fat one, will be printed up, tentatively adopted by the board, and sent along to the Water Rights Commission for a hearing to determine that the plan is in line with state water law. Then the development board will adopt it and show it to the legislature for informal concurrence. The legislature has little to say about the plan, but the development board will be asking the lawmakers for two things: more money for the development board and some changes in the water laws in order to make the plan stick. During his term of office, Gov. John Connally has been constructing the machinery to place state water planning in the charge of this water panel, which he appoints. The Texas Research League assisted in writing the legislation, and the bills were handled in the 1965 session by Sen. George Parkhouse of Dallas, chairman of that chamber’s water committee and, by his asseveration on the evening of May 7, “for 35 years an ultraconservative.” There is nothing conservative about the logistics implied by the 32-page report. For increased in Texas, but this has not decreased the number of migrant workers. However, it has forced more workers to leave the state, travel farther and for fewer days. As to Texas, of the 128,000 men, women and children who migrated in 1964, 33,000 remained to work in Texas. The other 95,000 went as far as the Great Lakes region. DESPITE farm mechanization and federal re-training programs, most people close to the migrant workers believe there will always be a large group who will never leave farm work. Planting and harvesting the crops is something that must be done. Some say the solution is the nrganization of the workers, others say minimum wages. Whatever it is, if stoop labor is to stop trapping people in a tragic cycle, it must be made more rewarding. the record, among them are: The movement of water from wet northeast Texas to the dry Rio Grande Valley along a 980-mile system of pipe, existing rivers, and a brand-new river to be dug and paid for by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. To the development board, water is money, and this plan is designed to average out the price of delivered water across the vast coastal crescent which would be moistened by the scheme. Back in 1947, then-Cong. Lyndon Johnson pushed through Congress the idea of a U.S. Study Commission on Texas water problems of the future. George R. Brown, the Brownand Root Brown, became chairman of that commission, and it was the group’s 1959 report which first proposed in a thorough way the interbasin transfer of water within Texas. Seven years ago, Price Daniel was governor, and he thanked the commission for the facts and figures and then endorsed a letter from state water experts who implied that interbasin transfer was simply good science fiction. The state suggested that planning to 1980 would be adequate. The transfer of water surplus from the Red River, Sulphur River, and Cypress Creek to the Fort Worth-Dallas area which was more or less left out of the U.S. Study Commission report. The federal report was drawn to utilize water only from those eight river basins which lie entirely within the state. The new plan will propose use of boundary waters, such as that of the Red River. The transfer of surplus from the lower Colorado River to the thirsty San Antonio area by means of a pipeline. Changes in the water laws to make enforcing the plan possible. Joe G. Moore, executive director of the development board, says that a major problem will be preserving reservoir sites. One plan, he says, would be for the state to start paying the owners of the sites right away, in order to prevent submersion of areas developed so highly between now and the time the dams are built that the state would have trouble paying for them. Moore says the board wants to see part of the shoreline of each new lake reserved for use by the people. Massive spendingalmost one-third of the $2.7 billion the state must ante up in the field of water cleaning. The board wants money from the sale of surface water to pay back the state’s part of the cost of the Texas Water Project, the interbasin transfer plan. Valley farmers are going to be asked to pay $23 for each acre foot of water they buy, and studies which the board accepts claim that $23 is all the farmers can pay. The water would be more expensiveperhaps so expensive that the farmers wouldn’t buy it, and would leave the state holding the bondsunless it were used again and again as it ran southward from the top of Texas to the bottom. This means that the water will have to be cleaned again and again, and the report talks about tight water purity standards and tax modifications to pay for schemes like pumping wastes out to sea or into the ground. It offers three suggestions: a tax on waste discharges based on how much waste they dump into the rivers, a subsidy to waste producers who don’t dump industrial and municipal excreta into the rivers, or a straight tax-supported fund to pay for state waste disposal systems. Moore declared at the unveiling that the cities would be helped with this problem, but didn’t mention industry. Proposals to save the bays. Gulf waters would be channeled into bays endangered by the loss of fresh water flow after the diversion plan is in effect. What fresh water remained available would be channeled for controlled release into spawning and nursery grounds for fish and shellfish. The plan says that the development board also will propose studies of the prospects for commercial oystering in San Antonio and Guadalupe Bays, and for controls on spoils dredged. None of these things is spelled out in meaningful detail in the 32-page summary. AS WITH a Giacometti sculpture, the most interesting part of the state water plan is what isn’t there. With hearings ready to begin, the people who might oppose some of the plan’s specifics do not have at hand the economic studies which contain the board’s projections of water prices, nor the engineering feasibility studies which might or might not demonstrate, for example, that the section of the Brazos River which will be used as part of the 980-mile conduit system, is a long sponge which would absorb any extra water dumped in it and, thus, require paving. But what is mainly not there is any pleasant or simple answer for West Texas, and, specifically, the plains, the Caprock, whose major cities Amarillo and Lubbock are the humming hubs of an agricultural economy which is swallowing up June 10, 1966 Water in Our Time
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