Drilling for water

I’ve been hearing for a long time that water rights will be the big fight of this century. So I suppose stories like this will be more commonplace.

In a scorching cow pasture silent save the lowing of cattle, Terry Gilmore picks up a stick and draws in the sand a simple map: divots in the ground for a handful of water wells, then a long scratch for a pipeline to deliver water to Austin’s eastern flank.

About 2,000 feet below him sits an underground reservoir, known as the Simsboro formation, that he and others hope will fuel development everywhere from Georgetown to San Antonio.

Gilmore, 60, the chief investor in a water development company called Sustainable Water Resources, has spent millions of dollars to try to make his lines in the sand a brick-and-mortar reality.

Besides Gilmore, a handful of competitive water speculators are banking that the water beneath the largely rural area in Lee and surrounding counties is their crystal-clear gold. As anxieties about water supplies rise among the public and politicians, private speculators see an opportunity to tie up water rights and sell their goods to cities. But they have struggled to land big buyers.

Water speculators. Boy, what could possibly go wrong with that? I just hope the regulatory framework in place is better than what we had on Wall Street.

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