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start out farming,” complained Mitchell. “About the only way they can get started is to inherit a farm.'” 9 Once they have a farm, they must wonder about their future: , will there be enough energy to pump the water, how much will the energy cost, will there be enough water? “We’re not like a factory,” explained Mitchell. “A factory can shut down for a day a week. But we’re committed for a year.” 2 If farming in the High Plains fails, the entire region suffers. Agriculture is the third largest employer in the area; about 35% of the work force is employed in agriculture or related industries. 21 “Water is the economics of this area,” Duncan Ellison, executive director of Water, Inc., and long-time Lubbock resident, declared. “The whole economy out in this area is built on irrigated agriculture. “22 The region has much more in common with the Sahara than with a tropical rain forest and always has. The climate of the area is dry, and it can be argued \(and Texas farmers are exploiting limited resources for their own gain. “I think the semi-arid western states have been faced with a ‘water crisis’ back to preColumbian times,” remarked Steve Reynolds. 23 Whatever the cause, the High Plains farmer has begun to worry and has begun working to conserve more water. The residents formed the Water Conservation District No. 1, which now has its own office, public relations director, and research staff, all financed by taxes in “. . . Our greatest waste of water today in the state of Texas is the urban resident.” Wayne Wyatt, Water Conservation No. 1 the district. The district distributes comic books, coloring books, and other information to school children about the importance of preserving water. It encourages farmers to look for leaks in irrigation equipment, to monitor water use, to use drip irrigation. In the fall of 1981 the district was investigating efficiency in lawn sprinklers. “Really our greatest waster of water today in the state of Texas is the urban resident,” Wayne Wyatt asserted, “They know less about water conservation, spend less time conserving water, than . . . does the farmer. “24 According to a Colorado Dept. of Agriculture official, there are two different meanings to the term, “water conservation.” The first meaning is to improve water-use efficiency, that is, the amount of water needed to raise an acre of crops. The second meaning is to extend the life less of, or at least independent of, the efficiency of the water use. “Our research shows that if you assume better water-use efficiency, it may result in more water taken out of the aquifer,” he stated. 25 In South Texas, where there is a great deal of irrigation, there are questions how long a high-quality water supply will last. Irrigation upstream causes the water in the Rio Grande Valley to be saline. Cities such as Brownsville, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and Fort Worth are growing so quickly that they may not have adequate water supplies to meet their needs by the year 2000. 26 ANOTHER QUESTION is the regulation of groundwater. Although it provides 70% of the state’s water needs, groundwater is not regulated by the state. While surface water belongs to the public, private property owners own their groundwater according to the Texas Constitution. \(The state does regulate how large and Even though groundwater is privately owned, if a number of people share an aquifer and if one of those persons overdraws from a well, the rest of the people using the aquifer are affected. There are also problems with the Texas water bureaucracy. Although some of the overlap has been eliminated, Kaye Northcott’s assertion in 1974 still holds true: “Jurisdiction over water quality, water rights, water distribution. etc., is Balkanized into a myriad of fiefdoms in Texas.” 27 Most of those “fiefdoms” were merged into the Texas Department tions of jurisdiction remain. There are water conservation districts, the Texas river basin authorities, and reclamation and conservation districts. Of course, counties and cities have a lot to say about their water. And then there’s the federal government. The problem has led to a lack of management, or so say critics of the TDWR. Perhaps it’s an attitudinal problem, for as a Colorado official explained, there is a “sticky difficult management position which means regulation.” 28 Regulation has been a dirty word in Texas for a long time. “All the water purveyors in this state . . . want to ‘hustle’ water. They don’t want to manage,” Stuart Henry ar gued. “It boils down to a bunch of water bureaucrats. ” 29 The water bureaucrats respond that their hands are tied by “the great policy makers in the dome.” The TDWR actually lacks authority to take significant actions. “We work with the data and make projections as if we had the authority to do something about it,” explained Herb Grubb, director of development, TDWR.3 In fact, the Texas Water Development Board, appointed by the governor, establishes policies for the TDWR. The TDWR does grant water rights. To obtain a water right, an entity must demonstrate that the water is available and needed. The TDWR will check the figures. There are public hearings. No cost-benefit analysis is required. Once given a permit, an entity must acquire its own funding. “Independent local units of government have to take the initiative,” “All the water purveyors in this state . . . want to ‘hustle’ water.” Stuart. Henry, Sierra Club Herb Grubb complained. “We’re trying to push a rubber band.” 3′ When the interest rate was established water speculators were finding it difficult to sell bonds, even though the legislature allocated $600 million for a Water Fund: $400 million for water development and $200 million for water-quality enhancement. Of the money for water development, $281.4 million has been authorized; $79.7 million has been used in constructing nine reservoirs. But bonds were hard to sell at 6%. Wayne Wyatt quipped, “Would I buy one of those bonds at a 6% interest rate when I can go down to the bank and get a C.D. for 15%? I might do it just because I was a good-hearted person if I had two or three billion dollars.” 32 Facing a history of water proposals that just weren’t approved by the public and a history and future of water problems in the state, Speaker Billy Clayton submitted his Water Trust Fund. The final legislation, House Joint Resolution No. 6 and House Bill No. 8, passed the 1981 summer special session of the Texas Legislature. As a constitutional amendment, HJR 6 required and received two-thirds passage in both the Texas House and Senate. Had it passed the plan would have taken all undedicated state tax revenues THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9