In an earlier post titled “Where’s the Water?” I addressed the dichotomy between Austin city government allowing unrestrained growth in the metroplex and requiring mandatory rationing during the summer months. According to an article in the September 30th Austin American-Statesman, this disconnect with reality is a common disease affecting San Antonio and other communities to the south of Austin as well.
They have even less water there. And the fact that we all live in a near-desert climate seems to have escaped some folks. Heaven forbid that we manage growth in part based on the availability of the most precious natural resource on the planet. That appears to be too much to ask.
San Antonio’s solution is to “call for water.” Like you can pick up a phone and order some. Well, apparently you can. Just dial the number of an “authority.” I’ve often wondered about the use of that word in relation to water. It means “the power or right to give orders, make decisions, enforce obedience.” Potent stuff.
San Antonio tried it with the Lower Colorado River Authority, but that fell through when the LCRA pulled out of a water-sharing project due to water demands in its own basin. So now other authorities are stepping up: the Central Texas River Authority, the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, and the Brazos River Authority. And then we have private, non-authoritarian entities like End-Op, Sustainable Water Resources, Blue Water Systems, and the Brazos Valley Water Alliance.
San Antonio’s solicitation asks for 26 billion gallons of water per year, although the city only needs a paltry 6.5 billion gallons per year by 2020. The people on the other end of the phone have responded with wanting to “engineer a deal” to build a $400 million pipeline from the counties east of Austin to San Antonio.
Excuse me, but this is nuts. We allow population to swell in locations without enough water and fix the problem by pumping groundwater from someplace else? The aquifer being tapped will lose water faster than rainfall can replenish it. So the ultimate endgame is a water shortage there. Uh oh. Now we need to reverse the pumps.
This is just another example of an epidemic in this country of not living within our means. We can’t do it in government, in our households, or in the control of urban sprawl and its impact on water supplies. This raises serious doubt in my mind about the existence of intelligent life on the planet.