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would be required to pump the water the required distance … But,” the congressman added, “water is precious. The importance of food production to feed our growing population and to export to the world is increasing rapidly; and many areas in Texas could be used to produce food if more irrigation water is available. If we are wise, we shall keep a watchful eye on this situation. There may soon come a time when we will be willing to spend the money necessary to do whatever we must to get more water. I intend to continue a vigorous search for increased future water supplies, not only through importation, but also through underground storage, desalinization, weather modification and any other possibility which seems to offer potential.” State Rep. Bill Clayton of Springlake used to be a water lobbyist of national significance. But he recently bailed out of his interest group, Water, Inc., with the excuse that he needed to spend his full resources on running for speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. A speaker candidate could not be expected to get any pledges from East Texas legislators while simultaneously pushing for a water plan that would significantly decrease East Texas’ water supply and ruin the natural flow of the area’s abundant rivers. With Clayton gone, probably for good, Water, Inc., is generally considered to be sunk. One environmental engineer told the Observer, “The people on the High Plains are going to have to resign themselves to less water in the future. Undoubtedly it will hurt the area’s economy and it will cause a certain amount of readjustment.” The engineer pointed out that a majority of the farming in West Texas is still dry land farming and that the irrigators could make a living the old way. It’s just not nearly as profitable as irrigating. And, as Graves points out in The Water Hustlers, many irrigation farmers are not about to return to the lower yields of the dry land methods. ” ‘I grew up on that dry-land stuff,’ one farmer said with two cars in the garage of a good new house and a pickup and a $7,000 tractor parked outside. ‘I watched my daddy fight it and I fought it with him. A little old cloud comes over and everybody sort of holds their breath and grunts, and it don’t drop nothing and you just keep on watching the crops dry up. Uh-uh. When the water’s gone I’m leaving too.’ “8 EL PASO This is another area running out of water and our engineer says, “There’s damned little that can be done about it.” El Paso’s main water source, the Rio Grande River, is tied up in agreements by the International Boundary and Water Commission. There is considerable argument over whether Texas is getting the portion of water it is supposed to get out of the international agreement. The squabble should keep a covey of hydrologists and water lawyers profitably negotiating for the remainder of the century. Meanwhile, El Paso mainly has to rely on ground water. Engineers are exploring the possibility of digging ground water wells several hundred miles away from the city, but the water is very salty and getting the salt out of the water would be very expensive. SAN ANTONIO AND THE EDWARDS AQUIFER The Edwards is a rich underground river running through the porous limestone north of the city of San Antonio. Unlike the Ogallala, the Edwards recharges very fast. What rains one week in the upper end of the Frio River may be pumped out of the ground for drinking in San Antonio a week later. Ranch Town, a federal new-town housing project, is being constructed north of San Antonio and it stretches over a portion of the recharge zone of the aquifer. Environmentalists challenged the new town last year and lost the battle in court, but not before strict guidelines were laid down. The guidelines are supposed to ensure that the housing project does not pollute the underground water supply \(see Obs., May danger seems to be that the Ranch Town development will encourage more and more housing and commercial construction over the aquifer, which could easily result in a polluted water supply for the area. If Texas had a land use bill, San Antonio’s growth probably would be directed southward, away from the precious aquifer. If Texas regulated its ground water supplies, the state could make sure no pollution reached those watery limestone caves. But there is strong opposition to both kinds of regulation. THE HOUSTON-GALVESTON AREA Fact is, it’s sinking right into Galveston Bay. Most people seem to think that subsidence is a purely localized phenomenon affecting the San Jacinto Monument and parts of Pasadena and Clear Lake, but such is not the case. Houston’s ground water supply is being deplated at such a clip that the land in some parts of Harris County has sunk as much as seven feet. At present, hundreds of millions of gallons of water per day are being pumped out along the Houston Ship Channel for industrial purposes. The pumping creates a big dishpan effect, with the center of the dishpan being in Pasadena. But as far away as Freeport there is subsidence of up to 12 inches. “Sooner or later when we have a hurricane down there,” says the chief administrator of a state water-related agency, “it’s going to wipe out a few thousand homes that , were high and dry during the last hurricane. I’m convinced it will create a scandal of the first order. By allowing this subsidence to happen the Legislature has in the aggregate been grossly negligent in its duties to the people of this area.” Houston/Galveston legislators, especially Sens. Babe Schwartz and Chet Brooks and Rep. Joe Allen, have tried to pass legislation aimed at stopping the withdrawal of ground water from the area along the west side of Galveston Bay and along the Ship Channel. They’ve run up against a brick wall, a wall primarily constructed by the West Texans who oppose regulation of ground water in any part of the state for fear that the regulation will spread all the way to the Ogallala. CORPUS CHRISTI AND SOUTH TEXAS Corpus has a little subsidence problem, but the city is in the process of setting up a new water supply via the Choke Canyon reservoir to be constructed on the Frio River. Unfortunately, the water supply from Choke Canyon probably won’t provide much water for areas farther down the coast. And, next to the High Plains, the lower Rio Grande Valley is most in need of additional water to keep up its irrigation farming. Like the El Paso area, the Valley is having trouble getting the quantities of water it hoped to get through the international agreements and cooperative reservoirs along the Rio Grande. The in-state water rights are messed up as well. The Water Rights Commission has had a water master adjudicating tangled rights in the area for several years now, but there are still lots of thorny rights questions remaining to be answered. As mentioned earlier Harry Burleigh and the TWDB currently are thinking about delivering 150,000 acre-feet of water a year to South Texas from the Guadalupe River or thereabouts. But the water would only be sufficient for municipal and industrial uses. For the purpose of continued irrigation, the Valley would need an estimated half million to a million acre-feet a year. Looking north, beyond Choke Canyon and the Frio River, you get to the Gaudalupe-San Antonio River Basin, which may supply the TWBD’s 150,000 acre-feet, presuming the, state goes for inter-basin transfer of water. For irrigation water, one would have to look even farther north. There’s a lot of water in the Colorado River Basin, but most of the rights are already owned, particularly by the rice farmers in the Matagorda County area. Some of the rights might be bought, but the price would be high and the cost of getting the water down to the Valley would be even higher. Farther up the coast is the Brazos River, where the water is naturally very salty. Some state bureaucrats and valley water promoters are thinking of looking as far east as the Trinity, the Neches and the Sabine Rivers for water. The costs, of course, would be astronomical and could only be justified if the country were in dire need of the fruits and vegetables grown in the Valley. The irrigators are in competition with July 26, 1974 7