Texas Whooping Crane Advocates Win Reprieve in Water War

Mar 12, 2013 | Boomberg News by Laurel Brubaker Calkins | TAP In The News

Texas was ordered to temporarily stop issuing new water permits for a river system that supplies dozens of Central Texas cities, power generators and petrochemical plants to ensure enough water reaches the last migratory flock of endangered whooping cranes.

U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack in Corpus Christi, Texas, yesterday blocked state regulators from approving new permits for the Guadalupe, San Antonio or Blanco rivers “until the state of Texas provides reasonable assurances to the court that such permits will not take whooping cranes in violation of the Endangered Species Act.”

Jack said in her ruling that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, or TCEQ, which grants water permits in the state, violated federal wildlife protections by failing to monitor how much water cities and industrial users took from the rivers during droughts.

According to evidence at a 2011 trial, so much water was siphoned from the rivers during the 2009 drought that 23 birds, or 8.5 percent of the Texas whooping crane flock, died because insufficient freshwater flowed into the coastal marsh where the birds spend winter.

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