One of the candidates said we could 'use a whole lot more of the water in the aquifer if they just pumped it down so the springs quit leaking.'
Note: Early voting is under way for three seats (1, 3 & 5) on the District's 5-member board. Ms. Ford, author of the commentary below, resides inside District 3 of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District. She doesn't have a very positive view of three of the candidates. Messrs. Key, Skipton and Reitz are welcome to send their responses. We were very disturbed to hear very recently that two of the candidates above have personally threatened to fire the hard working staff of the HTGCD if they get elected to the board. For what we are not informed. We'll ask around. Maybe it's for the outstanding job the staff is doing under difficult financial circumstances. What a demoralizing effect that must be having on the staff! We did not hear this from any staff member. But if it's true (and we're hoping it's not), there's an old cowboy term used to describe characters who are threatening and disrespectful toward others: Dirty birds.
Send your comments and news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org, to Ms. Ford at email@example.com, or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story
Click on this link to the Hays County Elections Office for the voting schedule and locations: http://www.elections.co.hays.tx.us/May082010brElections/tabid/110/Default.aspx
Visit the groundwater district website, www.haysgroundwater.org, for all the candidates' bios and information about the district.
By Catherine Ford
There is a group of quick profit speculators operating without concern for the long term quality of life of our community, trying to take over the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District board. The positions they take put them squarely in favor of tearing away the fabric of our water supply and conservation management efforts we've all worked so hard for.
The initiatives they favor grant Eminent Domain powers to a small group of developers that would be sitting on the board. They propose to submerge Wimberley residential properties under a lake, drain the Hays-Trinity "so it doesn't leak," and use taxpayer money for legal maneuvering when they find the law is not in their favor. In short, this group of irresponsible greedy speculators is a danger to our community and it is critical that our community stand against them.
Mark Key (District 3 candidate, Dripping Springs) - He's running against incumbent Andrew Backus. Mark owns a utility construction business, making his money from developments. He lives in a subdivision that does not have anything to do with Hays-Trinity groundwater. During a candidates forum in Dripping Spring on April 8 he proudly announced that he was 'not the smartest candidate and had graduated in the lower half of his Dripping Springs class.'
Mark believes he has the whole groundwater budget figured out and has a solution to preserving wasted water. On April 6 when Mark spoke at Commissioners Court he said that 'the aquifer was like a leaky bucket, and the natural springs are the leaks in that aquifer bucket.' He said we could 'use a whole lot more of the water in the aquifer if they just pumped it down so the springs quit leaking.'
He went on to do some math on how much water flowed down the San Marcos River as a result of spring flow at San Marcos Springs. He did the same for Jacob's Well Spring and Cypress Creek, and Barton Springs and the Colorado River. It seems so simple and he figured it all out on his own! His thought process reflects a total lack of understanding of the interconnected natural systems, and law associated with spring flow. Is this who you want to elect to the water board? An uninformed developers' contractor?
Jimmy Skipton (District 1 candidate, Henly/Dripping) – He has been attending groundwater district meetings for about a year and criticizing everything they do. Despite no obvious means of income, Mr. Skipton has filed a lawsuit against the County over its new subdivision rules – rules that were designed to promote some measure of aquifer conservation and water management.
At candidate forums, Mr. Skipton has suggested all the pressure can be taken off the aquifer if everyone collected rainwater. There is certainly truth in that, but then everyone would be running out of water at the same time during the next drought. Increased rainwater collection is an important part of a diversified water supply solution but it's not the total solution. Collected rainwater would be the first thing to dry up in the periodic droughts we experience in Central Texas. Using the logic he proposes, we all had better ask ourselves, "then what?"
Craig 'Nevada' Reitz (District 5 candidate, Wimberley) – He has recently moved into the Wimberley area. With no background in hydro-geology, he has declared that 'there is only a problem with the aquifer during periods of drought.'
Mr. Reitz has suggested that a reservoir in the Wimberley Valley on the Blanco River would be a good idea. This simple sounding solution has a couple problems – most important is that the rights to the river flow are spoken for, and secondly the eminent domain (forced) taking of expensive river front homes would not be politically or financially feasible and shows no concern for the property rights of Texans.
Mr. Reitz has been proud to say at the candidate forums that 'with every rule the groundwater district makes, property owners lose a right.' He'd rather just use Eminent Domain to rip people's personal property out from under them. He's come up with no suggestions about how to pay for it all but it seems obvious the Hays-Trinity board would need Eminent Domain power to build a lake. Such powers have been rejected as unnecessary by the current board. Conversely, he has stated at both candidate forums that he believes 'the conservation district is an unnecessary layer of government,' yet without it there is no local management of the aquifer. He should probably make up his mind. Is it too much government? Or is he just saying that while he plans new taxes to pay for a new lake and a board with the power to rip private homes away from their owners?
These three candidates have mutually beneficial interests in allowing a free-for-all of development and exploitation of our water. One is an anti-regulation finance and banking guy that is a newcomer to the area. Another is a big utility contractor who stands to personally benefit through unregulated subdivision development. The other is mystery man who is suing our county for conservation rules for no obvious reason. He's not disclosed his purpose for running or his vision for our community.
There is no big aquifer bailout option. There is no opportunity for these special interest agents to mess up and get a "do-over." Our entire Hays-Trinity community stands to suffer greatly if these guys get their way. This is about conserving safe and clean drinking water. We cannot allow this group to put us all at risk so their big companies can rob hard working Texans of their property or their Water. Help us fight back!