Friday, June 29, 2012

The Texas Water Plan and Chicken Fried Steak

From Drawing Straws by Nate Blakeslee (July 2012 issue of Texas Monthly).  The key (and very good) question that Mr. Blakeslee raises - -

"For more than fifty years, Texas has issued version after version of a comprehensive water plan.  The newest edition includes $53 billion in projects, ranging from new reserviors to treatment plants.  So why is so much of the state always left high and dry?"

Blakeslee writes the following - -

"Rivers, of course, tend to flow through more than one planning region, and a number of major proposals to the plan call for pulling water out of one area for use in another.  The board {Texas Water Development Board} is supposed to resolve conflicts between regions before it finalizes the plan, but that doesn't always happen: on page 48, for example, planners from the Dallas-Fort Worth area recommend damming the Sulphur River in northeast Texas to create the long-proposed Marvin Nichols Reservior and pump the water to their constituents.  But that project is explicity rejected on page 50 by the people who actually live near the river.

If you catch the authors of the various regional plans in a frank mood, they will tell you that most of the projects in the plan will never be completed anyway.  The executive summary of the current plan reveals that only 65 of the roughly 500 initiatives listed in the previous version, compiled in 2007, have been implemented.  That happens to be a marked improvement over the 21 projects in the 2002 plan that were put into action by 2007.  The state water plan is to planning as chicken-fried steak is to steak." 

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