Sharing Water in the Rio Grande

Sharing Water in the Rio Grande

The Rio Grande Basin has economic, cultural, and environmental values to communities throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and bordering Mexican states. The current agreements and structures in place to manage waters of the Rio Grande are failing to protect the values of all stakeholders dependent on the river. This brief analyzes the issues present in the current management and ownership structures and provides a recommendation to encourage a sustainable relationship with the Rio Grande Basin.

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Direct Potable Reuse in Brownwood, Texas

Small oil boomtowns in Texas rarely make national news, let alone international headlines. Brownwood has an opportunity to become an exception. The city could become one of the first in the United States (along with Wichita Falls) to implement direct potable water reuse. Informally referred to as “toilet to tap”, direct potable reuse is a system where wastewater is treated to drinking water standards and sent directly through the drinking water system. 

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There are better options than the Vista Ridge Pipeline

When your glass of water is empty, its time to stick your straw in someone else’s glass, right? That seems to be the most recent water management strategy of the San Antonio Water Services (SAWS) board. On Monday, September 30th, the board unanimously approved a $3.4 billion plan to construct the Vista Ridge Pipeline, a project that will transfer up to 50,000 acre-feet of groundwater per year over 142 miles from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer in Burleson County to San Antonio. As a statewide leader and innovator in water supply management, San Antonio water planners have taken a step in the wrong direction by approving the Vista Ridge Pipeline.

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Joint Legislative Committee Tackles Water Desalination

Joint Legislative Committee Tackles Water Desalination

Texans may soon have to turn to drinking recycled saltwater, brackish water, or maybe even wastewater from natural gas fracking. The current drought has forced the state to look into alternative water resources, including water reuse and conservation measures. One form of water reuse that has become more desirable to those working to solve Texas’ water shortage is desalination - the process of removing salt and impurities from water sources such as seawater and brackish water. While technologies are still being perfected to recycle oil, gas, and industrial wastewater for potable use, industry is currently capable of recycling their own wastewater for further use.  At the same time that Texas’ economy is booming due to the oil and gas industry, we have towns such as Wichita Falls dangerously close to running out of water. If we are to sustain our “Texas Miracle” we absolutely must ensure that we have water to supply to millions of Texans, and the businesses and industries that make our thriving economy so great.

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Bois D’Arc Creek Reservoir: Water By Any Means Necessary

What does a squirrel do when their nut stash has been taken over by a larger predator? Easy: find more grub closer to home. That’s the strategy that North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) seems to be playing these days. And if they can get through a few contested battles, the Bois D’Arc Creek Reservoir will be a stash great enough to make the Marvin Nichols Reservoir look like mere peanuts.

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Groundwater belongs to us… and our children

According to state law, you own the water beneath your property. Yet all too often, your neighbor’s water use affects whether you have water left in your well tomorrow. Thankfully, local regulatory entities—groundwater conservation districts, or GCDs—exist to make sure there is enough water left underground for your, your children’s, and even your neighbor's future use. The members of your GCD board are members of your community. They decide on desired future conditions for your aquifer based on a community effort and put safeguards on water withdrawals with everyone’s future in mind.

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Manufacturing Consensus

Manufacturing Consensus

Consensus-based decision-making is all the rage these days. It makes sense – important policy decisions with broad effects should include input from the people most effected. There is a downside, though – consensus-based decision-making can be gruelingly slow and create an atmosphere that strongly discourages decent. Requiring stakeholder consensus in emergency situations involving strong political interests can dangerously delay action.

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