In the latest volley in a decade-long fight over water rights on the San Saba River in Central Texas, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has delayed implementing a permanent solution to ensure the river flows year round.
As the Observer reported in October, a 40-mile stretch of the river has repeatedly dried up between Menard and Brady. Landowners who live downstream charge that their neighbors upstream are to blame for illegally pumping more water than their permits allow, and TCEQ hasn’t settled the fight. As a result, downstream landowners have been calling on the agency to appoint a watermaster — a referee who can manage and enforce water rights on a local and day-to-day basis — to police the river. But at a November 15 TCEQ hearing, the agency chose to punt on resolving the issue by declining to appoint a watermaster. While the agency’s three commissioners said that the discussion on the San Saba “needs to continue,” they all agreed that the issue is “better addressed through other mechanisms.”
“My concern is making sure that we’re discharging our obligation to be good stewards of state water,” said TCEQ Commissioner Jon Niermann. “I want to make sure we’re on top of that on the San Saba, and I don’t have the comfort today that we’re there yet.” …Read more from the Texas Observer