So much for cooperation in finding win-win solutions to urban-rural needs to make sure all Texans have a sustainable and affordable supply of water. Hays County has sunk to a new low in the competition for who can deplete a finite supply of water the fastest. They have, this week, inked a contract with water speculator, Forestar Real Estate Group, to buy a future supply of water which Forestar has no legal right to sell. But that’s no problem, Hays County will help Forestar litigate against a neighboring county’s groundwater conservation district, who holds the key to big bucks for Forestar on the front end, and Hays County on the back end, when the county gets into the water marketing business, too.
Who will be the losers? The citizens of Lee County, where water marketers are systematically trying to strip that county of water they also will need for economic well-being and for the economic development that Hays County covets so selfishly. And the citizens of Hays County stand to lose, too, on the affordability side. Today, they have no assurance that Forestar’s gain will not be their loss, in terms of the rates they will ultimately pay for water.
The conundrum of how much it costs to move water from one place to another is always the same — who ultimately pays for the distant well field, the collection system, the miles long pipeline, the receiving system, the water treatment system and the delivery system at the end of the pipe? Sometimes there is a debate about this, and contract negotiations get sticky — but not in this case. Here, Hays County seems to have signed on big time for most of the risk — they take over at the well head in Lee County, what could be cleaner? The cost and risk of collection, pipeline, quality, quantity, transport and delivery are all shifted away from Forestar onto Hays County. How lucky for the taxpayers and ratepayers of Hays County — they will know immediately how at risk they are with the package their County Commissioners Court has handed them this week.
Real soon, we’re going to start naming names of the folks in cahoots with this dirty deal. So stay tuned for all the fun and games in exposing those behind the “Trans-Texas Water Highway.” Remember, it wasn’t long ago that the TTC plan had water pipelines as part of it. These water/road heist guys are relentless!