The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Speaker questions water scarcity

Charles W. Kreitler, vice-president of LBG-Guyton Associates of Austin, spoke at the new Dedman Life Sciences Building today about the sustainability of water resources in Texas. The timing of the lecture was current with the news story in today’s The Dallas Morning News about plans to divert or further draw upon the resources of the Guadalupe River.

Kreitler, who holds a Ph.D. and specializes in ground water and environmental services, said that people are asking, “Is there enough water available for everyone?”

“Quite simply, yes,” Kreitler said. “Although for how many generations or centuries this may be true, who can accurately predict. Each city and area measures recharge needs differently.”

Kreitler believes that people need first to accept the concept of nonrenewable resources, that mineral production is economically driven and a mineral depletion allowance is necessary. He refers to the question of adequate supplies as “sustainability.”

“Sustainability requires a rate of renewability,” Kreitler said. “It also takes into consideration the rate of use-management (which is society driven), the size of the reservoir of material being considered and remembering that sustainability is time dependent.”

Kreitler said that Texas has 440 reservoirs with total storage of 41.5 million acre-feet that are limited-volume reservoirs. These reservoirs are self-regulating. “If it doesn’t rain, the water in the reservoir runs out. Also, surface water is sustainable and Texas must consider the water-right system. This is called the ‘Rule of Capture’.”

“Under the Rule of Capture, you can capture (pump) as much ground water from beneath your property as needed as long at it is has a beneficial and non-wasteful use, regardless of the impact upon your neighbor,” Kreitler said. “This [disregard for] the impact upon your neighbor is the part that most people have an issue with. If this became a torte issue, where a neighbor could claim damages done from a lack of water, I’m sure that a great deal of the issues would be cleaned up in the court system.”

Kreitler said that the Texas State Supreme Court recently ruled in the case of Ozarka water and their neighbor that this was more of a legislative matter than a judicial one. Some areas have begun creating “water conservation districts” to regulate water use in their area. He said that the Texas court system is supporting the decisions of the Conservation Districts in claims where they conflict with the Rule of Capture.

“Some of the methods being used in these districts include the regulation of well spacing,” Kreitler said. “It may also include a duty per acre-foot, safe yield regulations, computer models, historic use, consensus yield or a compromise on the Rule of Capture.”

A question that Kreitler asks is “If current users are not allowed to use the water, which future generations will be allowed?”

Water from our kitchen sinks comes from the local lakes and rivers. The reservoirs and aquifers feed these with water flows from areas called recharge zones. As many small creeks and rivers are drying up from the drains by an ever-increasing populace, the reservoirs are drained even further and so are the recharge zones.

A controversy exists as to how these recharge zones should receive a “helping hand.” Kreitler said that proposed projects require diverting waters from the Colorado or Guadalupe Rivers into the Edwards Aquifer, which provides water for San Antonio, San Marcos and other highly populated areas of Texas.

“People don’t seem to care that a biologist said that a town should not be there (San Antonio) at the turn of the century,” Kreitler said. “They just continue to move in and build, regardless.”

The Associated Press and The Dallas Morning News have published stories about the debates raging over the proposed Guadalupe River project.

“The Guadalupe is one of the most pristine rivers in the state, and we are working to protect it and the amount of water reaching the bays,” said Bill West, general manager of the river authority, created by the Texas State Legislature in 1935 to manage river resources.

“Sustainability is only one issue associated with the management of Texas ground water,” said Kreitler. “It is also necessary for Texans to optimize the use of ground water resources, conserve and reuse where possible. They should also explore artificial recharge, desalinization of brackish waters and think of water as a free market commodity. Most of all, people need to remember that life is a compromise.”

The question of whether our water resources are in jeopardy of depletion or not seems to have taken second place to politics.

Speakers at the terrorism/anti-terrorism lectures sponsored by the SMU Law School have been addressing standing-room only crowds while a lecture on available water resources for Texas was attended by a geological and science staff of about 15 members and four students.

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