Guadalupe Defense Status: "Tentative" Agreement Reached
In May, GRTU reached a "tentative" agreement to settle the protest of the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA) water right application. The agreement would bring a significant improvement in the trout fishery and its potential to carry-over much greater numbers of trout and improve the trophy potential.
Unfortunately, an official announcement is not possible because the agreement has yet to be signed. Until we have a valid contract, the details of the agreement must remain confidential. Let me express some cautious optimism as Bill West, CEO of GBRA, stated in a San Antonio Express article that GBRA intends to honor the agreement with GRTU.
In the meantime, the Guadalupe Legal Defense Fund is still open for business. We have our attorneys at work and there will be additional billable hours to finalize the settlement. If things do not proceed as we expect them to, we could still present our case at the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission (TNRCC).
This has been a bad year for the trout fishery. Water releases have been cut way back due to drought restrictions, and flow is about half of the minimum rate. This has increased the water temperature, which impacts the trouts' ability to survive. Most of the trout we stocked this last year probably have fared far worse than a normal year.
However, it was a good year to divert funds from stocking and invest them, instead, into Guadalupe Defense as we did. I am proud of the members who unanimously approved this reallocation. It appears to be an investment that will pay big dividends in the future of the trout fishery.
I recently attended a meeting of the Texas Rivers Conservation Advisory Board, at which Quentin Martin, an engineer for Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), gave a presentation about what LCRA was doing to improve fish, wildlife, and recreation for the Colorado River from Austin down to the estuary. I must say, it was very impressive, as LCRA's objective is to devote significant storage capacity in the Highland Lakes for other purposes than water supply: a significant amount of water is released for in-stream fish, wildlife habitat, and estuary maintenance.
Martin says the day of "techno-engineering" for water issues is over. By this he meant that reservoir storage has to be used for more than water supply and that storage is important for in-stream flows' conservation benefits. He also validated our premise that when water is abundant, it should have other beneficial uses rather than sitting in a full reservoir awaiting a paying customer or the next flood to dump it out.
This is precisely what we have been trying to accomplish with the protest of the GBRA water right application. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised to hear that a river authority agrees with our premise. I also learned that there is an opportunity for conservation organizations such as ours to serve on various water planning districts as mandated by Senate Bill 1, which reformed water law in Texas. GRTU will need to get involved with water planning to ensure that water is also used for conservation.
Finally, I have to sadly announce that Mark Stacell, our attorney, has left the law firm for better career opportunities. He has brought us all the way to this point of conclusion. I don't know if we could have ever succeeded without his guidance. Good luck, Mark!
Please, please give whatever you can to the Guadalupe River Legal Defense Fund. Send your contribution directly to:
Guadalupe River Legal Defense Fund
P.O. Box 27156
Austin, TX 78755-2156
GRTU Flow Committee