May 16, 2019
For Immediate Release
Texans Seeks Relief from Water Barons,
Ask Governor Abbott to Veto Bad Bill
BASTROP - Rural residents faced with groundwater depletion and urbanites facing exorbitant water rates are asking Governor Abbott to veto a bill that robs Texans of the right to a public hearing when a permit to export groundwater comes up for renewal.
House Bill 1066, by Representative Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, was passed May 10 by both the Texas House and Senate and sent to Abbott for his signature.
Opponents of the bill cite San Antonio’s Vista Ridge Project as a prime example why Abbott should veto HB 1066. The project will take 50,000 acre-feet of groundwater from the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer in Burleson County and ship it to San Antonio. Financing the project means a rate hike for San Antonio Water System customers.
Under current law, when the Vista Ridge export permit comes up for renewal, the citizens of Burleson County can participate in a public hearing and contest the permit. HB 1066 strips those rights away and requires the permit to be renewed "without a public hearing."
“Governor Abbott vetoed almost identical legislation in the 2017 session,” said Andy Wier, a Bastrop landowner and board member of the Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund. “He stated then that the legislation excluded the public from participating in groundwater decisions. But big water developers convinced the legislature to file this bill again. However, I believe Governor Abbott is a man of principle, and he’ll stick to his guns, and veto this legislation again.”
Asking for the veto is a coalition of rural and urban organizations, including the League of Independent Voters, the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund, Save Our Springs, and Environmental Stewardship.
“This concerns not only rural residents,” said Ellen Berky, a San Antonio architect and board member of the League of Independent Voters. “Residents of San Antonio and other urban areas fear the bill only strengthens the hand of water barons who have convinced cities to enter contracts for water at twice or three times current rates.”
Governor Abbott has until May 20 to veto, sign, or let the bill become law without a signature.
SAWDF was formed in 2016 as a 501(c)(3) organization by veterans of several local groups who have battled to protect Texas aquifers for two decades. Visit www.simsborowaterdefensefund.org for more information on SAWDF’s current activities and fundraising campaigns.