states­man in-depth: water man­age­ment

Gov­ern­ments seek long-term sup­ply to keep up with growth.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - corourke@states­man.com ash­er­price@states­man.com Water

Cities, firms chase ground­wa­ter rights By Ciara O’Rourke and Asher Price SAN MAR­COS — Amid a per­sis­tent drought that has rat­tled Tex­ans about water sup­plies, cities and in­vestors are jock­ey­ing to pur­chase mil­lions of gal­lons of un­der­ground water and pipe it to rapidly grow­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

The Hays Cald­well Pub­lic Util­ity Agency is among the lat­est to en­ter the fray, paying to se­cure water it isn’t ex­pected to use for a decade or more. The agency isn’t alone. The rush to se­cure water rights across Cen­tral Texas means mil­lions are be­ing paid each year for un­pumped water.

“If you’re a city, you still have to make sure in­dus­try will keep coming to town. It’s a mat­ter of eco­nomic life or death to you. You have to make de­ci­sions, and the easy an­swers are gone,” said Robert Cul­lick, a con­sul­tant on water and pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture projects.

James Earp, as­sis­tant city man­ager for the city of Kyle, said that if the city’s pop­u­la­tion grows as ex­pected, Kyle’s

Allen Far­ley of Springs Hill Water, a con­trac­tor for the Canyon Re­gional Water Author­ity, puts oil in a well pump Wed­nes­day at Wells Ranch near Leesville. Sev­eral wells on the ranch pump water from the Car­ri­zoWil­cox Aquifer to Canyon Re­gional’s Wells Ranch Water Treat­ment Plant.

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