Because, as we learn from this Q&A that Forrest Wilder did with conservationist Andy Sansom, we’re already in a position where demand may exceed supply.
3) For many of our most cherished rivers, the government has appropriated more water than actually exists. This creates the possibility that if all those rights were exercised, there would be no water left to flow down to the Gulf. Presumably, unused water rights will be increasingly used in the future, posing a threat to the very existence of certain rivers. How do we disentangle ourselves from this situation? Do you have hope that the rather complicated SB 3 environmental flows process will bear fruit?
Our Rivers are threatened as never before due to the rapidly increasing demand on a resource that is already over-allocated in many cases.
For the first time, the Legislature, in Senate Bill 3, has established a process for protecting “environmental flows” in our rivers and streams, theoretically to ensure that after all of our agricultural, municipal, and industrial demands for water are met, they will continue to flow. This process, while ponderous and complicated, holds the promise that both stakeholders and scientists can devise flow requirements for the future.
The bigger question is once such requirements are established, where the required water will come from as, in all likelihood, it is already committed to other purposes.
Sansom is referring to SB3 from 2007, about which I don’t know much. But I do know that the cheapest and most effective way to make sure we don’t get to this point is to use less water. Yes, I’m going to point to the Texas Water Matters report again, because it has the best suggestions for how to do this. Look, it will be much easier to deal with this now, with the infrastructure we have, than it will be later when different entities discover they can’t have the water they thought they were entitled to because others have the same claim to it as they do. It’s an easy call.