The Concho River Basin Water Conservancy Association along with the Concho Valley Watershed Association are currently fighting to save your water rights as well as the environment in the Concho Valley and possibly even the state of Texas... and we need your help! This case could potentially effect all water rights in the State of Texas. You can learn more about your water rights and how they are being infringed upon in the following article by the Texas Farm Bureau:
First In Line, First in Right!
If you would like to help The Concho River Basin Water Conservancy Association fight for your water rights in the Concho Valley, or help to prevent this case from setting a bad precedent for water law across Texas, please contact:
AJ Jones - President CRBWCA
Concho Valley Watershed Association
Wayne Thorp- CVWA President
For additional information about the case, The Concho River Basin Water Conservancy Association, or for additional donation details please contact:
15957 My Road
Miles, TX 76861
Hearing set for April 26th 2012 at 2PM 98th District Court -1000 Guadalupe Street Austin Texas-5th Floor. The honorable Judge Tim Sulak will be presiding.
A case is pending in District Court in Austin, Travis County, in Cause No. D 1 GN 11 001298 entitled Concho River Basin Water Conservancy Association v. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, before District Judge Tim Sulak, who is considering a TCEQ Order granting the City of San Angelo's requested amendments to its water rights in such a way that takes away protections given to existing water rights on the Concho River downstream from Twin Buttes Reservoir. This, in turn, subjects holders of water rights above Twin Buttes on the South Concho River, Spring and Dove Creeks, Middle Concho River, and North Concho River to priority calls by downstream water right holders which will reduce their available water supply in the future.
This is a case of first impression. It raises questions regarding the extent of the City's water rights under Permit 1949 issued in 1960, which authorized Twin Buttes Dam and Reservoir. This Permit granted the City the right to construct the Dam and Reservoir for storage of storm and flood water only, i.e., flood control, and required the City to pass through the dam all other normal flows "at all times." The storm and flood water stored in the reservoir was also subject to release if needed downstream.
When the water rights in the Concho River Basin were adjudicated in the 1970's, the Texas Water Rights Commission (now, TCEQ) issued Certificate of Adjudication No. 14-1318 as evidence of these water rights but, in doing so, included in this Certificate some of the conditions of the City's water rights, but inexplicably left out other conditions of the City's water rights which clarified that storage of water was restricted to storm and flood water subject to the needs of downstream users. Now, the TCEQ has changed the Certificate requirement that normal flows be passed Aat all times@ for downstream use. This means that the normal flows will not flow downstream at all times for more continuous flows for use and environmental purposes to keep the Concho River alive. It also exposes more junior upstream water right holders to more priority calls by senior water rights and domestic and livestock users located downstream of the Dam.
What is happening is that through the TCEQ amendments, the TCEQ and City are eliminating the protections given to water right holders and the environment downstream of Twin Buttes Dam and exposing junior water right holders upstream to less available water supply. In the past, the City has not made releases from the Dam, which has essentially dried up the Main Concho River. In the 1970's, the then Water Commission, once required the City to make releases. This did not solve the problem and water right holders in the Basin successfully requested the establishment of a Watermaster. Since the institution of the Watermaster, there has been improvement because some releases from the Reservoir has been required, however, with these changes in the City's water rights, the Watermaster will not have the authority to do so because the requirement that all normal flows be passed at all times will not apply. These changes also removes the requirement that stored water will be released when needed downstream of the Dam.
The removal of these provisions protecting other water rights by requiring passage of normal flows "at all times" and requirement for releases from the Reservoir in times of need, will further exacerbate the recovery of the environment on the Main Concho River. These changes removes the protection provided other water right holders in the Basin, which are their vested private property rights. It amounts to a taking of their property rights, that is, their water rights without compensation and due process of law.
All who have an interest and concern in protecting water rights, which are private property rights, and the environment, should oppose changes in provisions in existing water rights eliminating protection of other water rights and the environment, which is involved in this case. This case is potentially bad precedent not only on the Concho River Basin but in the rest of the State.
Not a good scenario, to say the least. Based partly on the existing conditions, it is not hard to understand why the City of San Angelo in conjunction with TCEQ will go to great lengths to obtain and store every available acre foot of surface water that comes down the tributaries. As you may remember, back when we first formed this association, the City had in mind to appropriate surface water by leasing, buying, or condemning water rights. By aggressively forming our group, attacking the problem, and getting the public informed, we were able to get the City to back away from the condemnation idea in the short term, and there wasn’t much dialogue involving leasing or buying of surface water rights. There may have been only a handful of sale transactions that the City entered into and then things kind of died down.
After that unpopular debacle and some decent rains in the area, the problem seemed to die down somewhat. However, since then and with the installation of the “watermaster” by TCEQ, it appears as though the City is trying a new approach in order to quietly and methodically take away surface water rights using a different approach.
Attached is a letter from the attorney representing “Concho River Basin Water Conservancy Association”, a Main Concho River downstream group that really shows how the City, with help from TCEQ, is attempting to circumvent previous and existing rulings in order to better suit the needs of the city and impound water regardless of the consequences suffered by water right holders below and above Twin Buttes Reservior. It is a sad fact that when fully understood, this TCEQ amendment if allowed, could basically destroy the value of and eliminate the ability to use an adjudicated water right, while allowing the city of San Angelo with the blessing of TCEQ, to hold all water that should normally pass through the dam and at the same time require upstream water right holders to honor senior downstream calls for water, and then capture that water as well with no intention of allowing it to pass through to the downstream call. The magnitude of this TCEQ order, if allowed, will as discussed in the attached letter, set bad precedent and most likely change water law in Texas forever.
It is quite clear that with the vast financial resources of the City, the awkward tolerance by TCEQ in this case, and the very limited financial resources of water right holders to combat the seemingly endless legal efforts by the City of San Angelo, that we are engaged in a continuous battle of attrition that could end in a very bad way for a lot of rural people who count on surface water in our tributaries for their livelihood, not to mention the downstream environmental impacts that are already very apparent. The following facts are pertinent to the current water situation and are very important in understanding how and why the key players in this case are doing what they are doing:
TCEQ appears to be under political pressure here and in Austin to get water to the City of San Angelo regardless of the effect on water rights holders.
The City of San Angelo has been continuously seeking amendments to improve their water position and most likely believes they can eventually bankrupt individuals and organizations that seek to prevent their advance on privately held water rights.
This case is currently being handled by Glenn Jarvis, Esq. Mr. Jarvis has over 50 years of experience in the field of Water law in Texas.
For more information about Glenn Jarvis, Esq., as well as additional case details please visit his personal website:
Additional legal council by Mary Sahs: