Working on sound H2O management

Apr 23, 2010 | Victoria Advocate by Letter to Editor | TAP In The News

Editor, the Advocate:

The April 1 article, “Local residents comment at Edwards Aquifer Recovery planning meeting,” reported comments by Mayor Armstrong concerning a “.big burden with the whooping cranes.” Armstrong reportedly told Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program (EARIP) officials, “[m]y challenge to you is to use scientific information to make your decisions not the very, very wealthy lawyers that are going to get a whole lot wealthier over this.”

As a scientist and the regional director for The Aransas Project (TAP), I find these comments to be off the mark.

In Aransas County, we treasure the bays, the wildlife, fishing and the cranes. These are not a “burden”; they are the basis of a regional tourism economy. Fishermen and birders worldwide seek out these bays.

Freshwater inflows are essential for healthy bays, and the bays nourished by the Guadalupe support some of the most productive fisheries and birding areas along the Texas Coast.

I agree that these decisions should be based on sound science. Science tells us that without adequate freshwater, the entire bay ecosystem is harmed, including the whooping cranes. Historic data shows a correlation between Guadalupe River flows and crane mortality. We lost 23 whoopers due to low flows during winter 2008-09, and commercial and sports fisheries collapsed as well, all because of high salinity in the bays.

Science, as well as common sense, tells us the Guadalupe is already over-allocated and the situation is going to get worse without responsible management. TAP’s position is that the river should be managed “top to bottom” for the benefit of all of Texas, including coastal communities.

Unfortunately, EARIP’s scope includes neither the Whooping Crane nor river flows downstream to the Coast. Even if EARIP secures aquifer spring flows to protect species downstream, EARIP can’t ensure that any of this water will actually reach the coastal bays that depend on the Guadalupe.

Surely, in Victoria County, any reasonable discussion about water allocation would include the basinwide impact of GBRA selling 24 billion gallons of water annually from the Guadalupe to Exelon for its proposed nuclear plant. This proposed project demonstrates the need for decisions based on sound science and proper resource management.

I invite Mayor Armstrong to come down to Rockport and get acquainted with us. TAP is about putting fundamental fairness and sound science into water management. It’s also about protecting a regional economy and the most recognizable endangered species in North America.

Dr. Ron Outen, Rockport

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