New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 4, 1993, New Braunfels, Texas
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4. 1993 HERALD-ZEITUNG 5San Antonio, GBRA officials clash over aquifer lawsuit
SAN ANTONIO — Mayor Nelson Wolff and city water officials are lashing out at the Guadalupe-Bianco River Authority over a lawsuit that now threatens federal regulation of the Edwards Aquifer.
Wolff blasted the GBRA as he and San Antonio Water System board members responded Wednesday to a ruling by U.S. District Judge Lucius Bunton, who on Monday gave the Texas Legislature until May 31 to reduce aquifer pumping by at least 60 percent during times of drought.
“It’s time for San Antonio and everyone in the Edwards Aquifer region to get serious about working together to solve the water crisis we all face," Wolff said. “If we don’t, the blunt ax of the federal government will force a management plan down our throats."
The Sierra Club and the Guadalupe-Bianco River Authority filed the lawsuit under the federal Endangered Species Act against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The plaintiffs argued declining spring levels from too much aquifer pumping threaten endangered fish, salamander and plant species in the Comal and San Marcos springs in New Braunfels and San Marcos.
“The only beneficiaries of a federal plan will be blind salamanders, gambusia (a fish), fountain darters, Texas wild rice and the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, which funded the lawsuit to choke off our historic water supply in a blatant grab for power and money," the mayor said.
Once there are pumping limits, Bexar, Medina and Uvalde counties will seek ownership of excess spring flow through legislative means, Wolff said.
“GBRA is not going to control that water," the mayor said. Cliff Morton, chairman of the San Antonio Water System, accused the GBRA of trying to severely restrict aquifer pumping in order. to make San Antonio a customer
Highlights from the Capitol
AUSTIN (AP) — State senators have approved a boll weevil eradication plan that was backed by the agricultural establishment but opposed by environmental-‘ ists, farmworkers and organic farmers.
The bill by Sen. Bill Sims, D-San Angelo, was approved 29-1 Wednesday. It will now go to the House for consideration.
' The measure would allow cotton farmers to form boll weevil eradication zones to fight the insect and tap into federal money.
. Texas agriculture officials say the boll weevil causes about $20 mil-, lion in losses to a state cotton . crop valued at more than $1.5 billion.
“I can’t think of a single good thing to say about the boll wee-. vil," said Sims. Opponents of the bill called it a government-subsidized pesticide spraying program. “This could result in massive pesticide spraying without proper controls," said Scott Royder of the Sierra Club.
Other developments Wednesday:
State Rep. Glen Maxey, D-Austin, introduced legislation to give gays and lesbians the same marital rights as other Texans. Maxey, the Legislative's only openly gay member, admits his legislation has no chance of becoming law this session. But he said it will start a discussion of the issue.
A state appeals court upheld most of a Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. rate settlement that was challenged by the state’s advocate for utility customers and more than IOO Texas cities. Spokesmen for Southwestern Bell and the Public Utility Commission, the panel that approved the settlement, praised the decision.
Fast food fight
A bill that would give franchise-holders more power when negotiating agreements with fast-food chains was approved 6-5 by the Senate Economic Development Committee.
that would build a large, expensive surface water reservoir. “That’s what all of this is about," Morton said.
“It’s not about fountain darters.” John Specht, general manager of the river authority, disputed the city officials’ remarks but would not say much else.
“I cant respond to that kind of thing. None of that is truth
ful,” Specht said, calling the comments “unfortunate.” Specht said the GBRA advocates a “very minimal flow” at the springs, using Bunton’s ruling as a guideline.
and more than $2.6 million in Wolff said the city and the Texas wages and salaries would be lost Water Commission, with approval in Bexar County. by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser-
“It’s apparent that the judge vice, continue to push for an initial simp^ choMS to ignore the impact limit of aquifer pumping to
The city claims the 60 percent on people’s lives in making his 450,000 acre-feet per year.
reduction Bunton mandated would mean economic disaster. Wolff said city evidence at the November trial showed that more than 136,000 jobs would be lost
ruling,” Wolff said. Wolff said the city will appeal, but in the mean time will keep working with other aquifer users and state officials on a management plan.
water per year is pumped from the aquifer now. City officials support a bill that would control pumping through a regional aquifer board, well permits and monitored pumping.
Morton said hie met Wednesday with Texas House Speaker Pete
That would drop to 400,000 acre-feet per year in 15 years and to 350,000 acre-feet during Limey, D-Hale Center, on the mat-drought It is estimated between ter, amid city officials are talking to 540,000 and 560,000 acre-feet of other legislators.
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