Mismanagement of the Guadalupe River water contributed to the death of at least 23 whooping cranes during the winter of 2008-09 in violation of the Endangered Species Act, according to a lawsuit ruling by Senior U.S. District Judge Janis Jack.
In her Monday ruling in favor of The Aransas Project, Jack declared the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and its executive director continue to violate the Endangered Species Act through its water management practices, including its failure to monitor certain water uses and to exercise its authority to protect the world’s only naturally migrating whooping crane flock.
Jack has forbidden the commission from granting any new water permits for the Guadalupe and San Antonio rivers until the state provides reasonable assurances the cranes will not be further harmed.
Jack also ordered the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to seek an incidental take permit and develop a Habitat Conservation Plan for the Guadalupe River estuary. Compiling such a plan can be a lengthy process involving the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The plan must be designed to minimize and mitigate risks to the cranes while balancing the interests of other river users and water rights holders.