As Guadalupe Reaches Critical Level, TSEPA Contends: Not Enough Water For Exelon

Jul 18, 2009 | Gonzales Inquirer by TSEPA | Related Press

VICTORIA, TX – With the Guadalupe River reaching critical levels, members of Texans for a Sound Energy Policy Alliance (TSEPA) today question how the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) and Exelon continue to believe that there is enough water for the proposed Exelon nuclear power plant near Victoria.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported that much of the Guadalupe River was running at less than 10 percent of its normal flow. On June 22, 2009 the Victoria Advocate reported that a city official confirmed the Guadalupe River dropped so low over the weekend that the city of Victoria had to stop pumping water for a few hours.

“The Guadalupe River Basin is looking head-on at a serious water shortage – even without the proposed Exelon nuclear power plant,” explains Jim Blackburn, an environmental attorney for TSEPA. “The Guadalupe is proving to us right now that Mother Nature overrides state-issued water rights.”

In December 2007, the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) cut a deal with Exelon that reserves more than 75,000 acre feet (24 billion gallons) of water from the Guadalupe River each year for the proposed nuclear power plant. This amount of water is over 7 times the amount of water the city of Victoria uses every year.

“By acting as a water merchant and not a conservation authority, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) is mismanaging this precious resource and failing as a steward of our precious water,” says Blackburn. “There is scarcely enough water throughout the Guadalupe River Basin to meet the current needs, especially during a drought. Future municipal and industrial water uses combined with climate change will only amplify this problem.”

The Guadalupe River which runs from Kerrville down to the coast, not only supplies Victoria County with water; it also creates the freshwater inflows that the endangered whooping crane relies on for survival during its wintering season at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in San Antonio Bay.

Lower freshwater inflows have had a grave impact on the habitat of the federally endangered whooping crane that winters in the San Antonio Bay. The winter of 2008/2009 was the worst in recent history for the whooping crane, with the deaths of 23 birds or 8.5% of the flock. Scientists believe that reduced fresh water inflows and increased salinity of the bay correlate with the crane deaths.

“In a nutshell, less fresh water reached our bays and estuaries this year than can be explained by the drought,” said Blackburn. “Our current way of life is at issue. Our water recreation, our current settlement patterns, our fisheries and even the whooping cranes are at risk.”

TSEPA’s mission is to support a Texas energy supply policy that is reasonable, sustainable, and environmentally sound. To learn more about TSEPA, visit www.speakupvictoria.com.

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