rock beat, a few outsized power chords, and a chorus of undirected, unabashed, undiluted ardor for ardor’s sake. “I’m in love with love,” Escovedo sings. He may not be subtle, but he knows himself. The song is refreshing for being so free of abstraction. Maybe Escovedo is too old to fuss with metaphor, or maybe he’s seen too much of life \(and come too close Street Songs of Lovewith its brassy production, female backup singers, and shout chorusessubtlety is unnecessary. It would just get in the way. If you’re a fool for someone’s love \(“Silver friend Bruce Springsteen to help you sing about it. And if you’re looking to connect with your suddenly distant, 17-year-old punk rocker son who reminds you just a bit your acoustic guitar, strum a simple rhythm any dive bar drunk could sway to, and tell the kid, “Everybody’s gotta feel some things they don’t wanna feel sometimes.” No need to fuss about it. After all, it’s only rock and roll. Ca WATCH Alejandro Escovedo and Bruce Springsteen perform at txlo.com/alejandro AUTHOR’S NOTE Water Shares by Charles Porter MAGINE THIS: YOUR NEW NEIGHBORS INSTALL A powerful pump in their water well, and your well your drinking waterdries up. In Texas, you would have no legal recourse, because Texas is the only state that still honors the ring nightmare in Texas water law and public policy, the rule has governed water usage in Texas for more than a century. Many policymakers acknowledge the policy has to change. A model for water manage ment in Texas exists, and is tried and proven. We just have to look back a few hundred years. When the Spanish arrived in Texas in the 18th century, they implemented a sensible, equitable water policy. Spanish water was free for everyone, not a commodity to be bought and sold. My book, Spanish Water/Anglo Water, traces the history of Spanish and Anglo water management in San Antonio, where millions of gallons of Edwards Aquifer water emerged from countless springs to create the San Antonio River and San Pedro Creek. There were so many small springs and seeps then that Del Weniger referred to the area in his 1984 book, The Explorer’s Texas, as a “sponge.” Upon arrival in San Antonio in 1718, the Spanish began digging irrigation ditches known as acequias. Eventually the acequia systems grew to a combined length of 50 miles and comprised the first municipal water system in the United States. Gravity still moves water through segments of this engineering marvel almost 300 years later. In a 1731 decree, Spanish Viceroy Casafuerte established the first water conservation and allocation policy in Texas. It required unused water from the acequias to return to a river or creekthe first environmental flow policy in the state. Water was free in San Antonio until the Spanish left. Then San Antonio began to grow too large to be served by the acequias. The water, which traveled in open ditches, regularly became contaminated with cholera. And as San Antonio grew, it needed fire hydrants to protect downtown buildings. The City Council knew the city needed an underground water system, but could not afford to build it. So the council outsourced water distribution to a private corporation, San Antonio Water Works Co., which began delivering piped water to the city in 1879. Many San Antonians were unhappy to see water, a necessity, become a commodity they had to purchase. It didn’t help that the largest shareholder in the water company was a Yankee banker, George Brackenridge. For the next 50 years, Brackenridge became a focus of populist rage. Several mayors were elected after using Brackenridge as a convenient scapegoat for the city’s decision to privatize water. By 1890, rapid population growth and periodic droughts had diminished the river’s water supply, and the water company had to drill deep wells into the Edwards Aquifer to quench the city’s thirst. Ironically, the drilling dried up Brackenridge’s own head-of-theriver spring, and he had to sell his home to a charity. To this day, San Antonio is the only major city in the United States that depends fully on groundwater. In Texas, the rule of capture means the person who owns the land owns the groundwater below it. Surface water like rivers and lakes is controlled by the state. The Texas Supreme Court established the groundwater policy in W.A. East v. the Houston and Texas Central Railway Company in 1904. In the case, the company dug a well for water to be used in its machine shops and dried up the well of a neighbor, who sued. The court established the rule of capture based on English common law, arguing that it would be impossible to determine the amount of groundwater and how to share it, and that any attempt to limit a landowner’s water use would impede development. In 1917, citizens amended the Texas Constitution to SPANISH WATER/ ANGLO WATER: EARLY DEVELOP-MENT IN SAN ANTONIO By Charles Porter TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY PRESS 196 PAGES, $34.95 The end of a long tradition: a water carrier in San Antonio loses his job. PHOTO COURTESY THE INSTITUTE OF TEXAN CULTURES AND THE HEARST CORPORATION JUNE 25, 2010 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 1 33
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