Thanks to the Freedom of Information Foundation and the League of Independent Voters, citizens were able to get in to the Texas Water Development Board schmoozefest, aka the “Water for Texas Conference” on January 23-25, 2017. This privatized event was sponsored by a state agency, the Texas Water Development Board, thanks to TWDB Chair, appointee and paid staffer, Bech Bruun. It was at this event that Patrick and his water lieutenant, State Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), made plain that they fully intend to roll right over rural Texans’ property rights (groundwater) and a united urban/rural citizen call to “conserve first, convey later.”
Truthfully, most Rs and Ds are on the train that continues to “convey now, conserve when convenient.” These policies are without much thought about whose property rights you’re protecting — those who want to keep groundwater in the ground as long as possible and those who just want to pump-baby-pump for a profit. And even though some good policy discussion, in fact, did take place at this event, the event wasn’t really about this. What it was was a chance for the big money makers on the water front to make connections with state officials.
Here you can listen to Evan Smith, Texas Tribune CEO one of best interviewers in the country, trying to moderate a panel with Rep. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) running roughshod over him. (Hear Larson’s ceaseless rant about how landowners are “balkanizing” their water by refusing to “share” it). At the end, I called Sen. Perry out for holding closed interim hearings on water. His response? He did that politician dance otherwise known as refusal to answer the question.
Here you can listen to Dan Patrick’s luncheon speech He began with defending his decision to appoint then freshman, Sen. Perry, to chair the committee on Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs in 2016. At the end Patrick declares:
“I’m a big believer in property rights, if it’s on your land, it’s yours. But we’re going to have to work together to find a way to ensure that all of Texans have the water they need for whatever their needs are.”
Of course, Patrick didn’t define what he meant by water they “need”. Does he think San Antonio needs the massive Vista Ridge/San Antone Hose? They don’t.