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COLUMBUS, Texas—Today, the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA) and The Aransas Project (TAP) signed a new version of an agreement to work together to help chart the future of the Guadalupe River Watershed, San Antonio Bay and last remaining flock of wild whooping cranes that winter along the Texas coast. This whitepaper agreement reaffirms and enhances an agreement signed in February between the two groups.
The whitepaper agreement signed by new GBRA General Manager Kevin Patteson and TAP Board Member Jim Blackburn reaffirms both entities’ intent to work together to solve problems relating to habitat and water supply within the watershed and the San Antonio Bay system.
“This agreement offers a real chance for a new dynamic in water management in the Guadalupe River watershed,” said Kevin Patteson, GBRA’s new General Manager who assumed his position in May. “It is a very positive sign for the future when groups such as GBRA and TAP, who have fought each other in the past, join forces to move forward on issues such as water supply and land and water stewardship. As the new General Manager, I am committed to realizing the vision of this agreement.”
Ann Hamilton, a member of the TAP Board, echoed Patteson’s sentiments, stating’ “TAP is committed to finding a way to meet the needs of people and the environment. From the beginning, we have wanted to protect the whooping cranes and San Antonio Bay while meeting the needs of the basin. We are now underway to achieve that goal.”
Under the new agreement, 10 study areas identified under the February agreement have been combined into two major topic areas – habitat improvement and long-term water supply investigations. Under the habitat section, issues such as the future of the Guadalupe Delta, new territories for wintering cranes, river mussel requirements and habitat improvement throughout the watershed will be studied along with review of a concept for protecting a nursery zone within San Antonio Bay. Under the water supply work, the water allocation model for the watershed will be reviewed as will all existing permits along with consideration of creative concepts such as water pricing and alternative supply development, permit conditions and water supply enhancement techniques. All work will be undertaken with the assistance of stakeholder groups comprised of interested entities and individuals.
“We have a lot of work to do and it is good to get under way,” said Blackburn. “This will be a long term effort that is going to require creativity and good will, but I feel comfortable that we can realize the huge upside potential of this agreement.”
Added Patteson, “This is not an easy or quick piece of work. We are all dedicated to rolling up our sleeves and getting it done well.” Blackburn and GBRA Executive Manager of Science, Intergovernmental Relations and Policy, Todd Votteler will be speaking about the agreement at the upcoming Hill Country Water Summit in New Braunfels and the Restore America’s Estuaries conference in New Orleans, both in December.
GBRA was established by the Texas Legislature in 1933 as a water conservation and reclamation district. GBRA provides stewardship for the water resources in its 10-county statutory district, which begins near the headwaters of the Guadalupe and Blanco rivers, ends at San Antonio Bay, and includes Kendall, Comal, Hays, Caldwell, Guadalupe, Gonzales, DeWitt, Victoria, Calhoun, and Refugio counties. GBRA provides services that include hydroelectric generation; water and wastewater treatment; municipal, industrial, and agricultural raw water supply; and recreational operations.
The Aransas Project, a Texas 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, is an alliance of citizens, organizations, businesses, and municipalities who want responsible water management of the Guadalupe River Basin and bays that represents all interests throughout the basin. TAP supports responsible water management that is reasonable, sustainable and environmentally sound—all the way to the bay.
Danielle Wilson, Communication & Education Assistant
Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority