Friday, February 14, 2014
AQUIFER TOLL ROAD AGENDA EXPOSED; WATER NEWS and more
Last night Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty won approval from the CAMPO Board (the Austin metro transportation board) to fast-track dumping 30,000 more cars on Mopac and loads more pollution into the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer. The vote switched out $8.6 million in federal funds for state funds, with the goal of dodging more stringent federal environmental review standards. Thank yous go to Austin City Council members Chris Riley and Bill Spelman for voting against the scheme.
Council member Riley's questions forced Daugherty and lame-duck Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe to admit they are trying to lock in the "aquifer toll road" before a new Travis County judge and county commissioner take office next January. Biscoe stated there was an "agreement" for Travis County to contribute $15 million, Hays County $5 million, and another $80 million or so coming from toll-backed debt-financing by the CTRMA, our local toll road authority. Most interestingly, the county commissioner's court has never voted on such an "agreement." Read more at the Austin Statesman.
Please take a minute to send an email to our local officials urging them to oppose this aquifer paving and Mopac gridlock scheme. Limited transportation dollars should be spent solving transportation problems, not making them worse.
Common sense prevails in San Antonio, as San Antonio Water system staff stepped away from proposals by private water marketers to pipe water from distant aquifers in favor of a local, affordable and incremental approach of drawing more brackish groundwater from southern Bexar County for desalination. Thanks go to SAWS President Robert Puente for the move.
Environmental, civic, and other groups, including SOS Alliance, actively opposed one of the proposals - to pipe up to 50,000 acre-feet per year of groundwater from Kinney and Val Verde counties. That proposal would have directly threatened San Felipe Springs in Del Rio, and Las Moras and Pinto springs in Kinney County. One of the other nixed proposals, from Spanish construction giant Abengoa and their local subsidiary, BlueWaterTx, would have piped groundwater all the way from Lee County, east of Austin, to San Antonio. Austin's water utility also has been secretly negotiating with BlueWaterTx to buy supplemental water for Austin. Building a water efficient economy remains only affordable, reliable, and environmental responsible choice for meeting our water needs. cheapest, most reliable