On Tuesday, September 1, 2009, the Travis County Commissioners Court voted three to two to financially aid Tecolote Farms in drilling a new well. I was one of the two votes against.
Although I advocate for the preservation of agricultural industry, especially the organic variety, I will not commit public funds for the benefit of private interests without a reasonable belief that the public expenditure will solve the public issue at hand.
The issue is diminishing water supply in the face of increased water demand.
Much of the debate surrounding Tecolote’s plight has focused on blame and restitution – Travis County is to blame for Tecolote’s dry well and therefore Travis County must pay for Tecolote’s new well. While satisfying from a dramatic standpoint, this framing of the issue is factually and legally insufficient and ultimately beside the point. It is not just Tecolote that is running out of water. We are all running out of water.
In eastern Travis County alone, we can expect 1000 more homes reliant on groundwater to be built in the near future. Just within the 3000 foot radius of Tecolote’s well there are at least nine other wells. The vast majority of the pumping capacity within that 3000 foot radius is dedicated to residential water supply (Travis County’s two wells represent less than 11% of that pumping capacity and is dedicated to irrigation of a public park). Other wells within that radius have also drastically declined in productivity. Drilling a well for every one that goes dry will do nothing to address our desperate need for a sustainable water strategy for the region.
I plead with my community to focus its tremendous energies on regional solutions to our water issues.
- Support legislation creating a water conservation district to regulate pumping from the Colorado Alluvial Aquifer in Eastern Travis County.
- Support legislation providing county land-use management in explosive growth corridors reliant on diminishing water supplies.