There has been a lot of talk during the current session of the Texas Legislature about building water reservoirs. In fact, there are 30 sites that are being proposed as possibilities.
“A reservoir gets built, that’s on everybody’s radar screen, to build more reservoirs. You got a reservoir built, what are you doing? You’re catching water that’s coming down the river that would keep going down the river to some folks down here. They don’t get that water any more. So there’s an issue.”
Ed Small is a water rights attorney and represents several ag groups. There are also problems with a proposal to build dikes that would only catch flood water.
“When it’s flooding, we’ll pick off that top flood water, and put it over here. It would otherwise go into the bays and estuaries, you say well, wait a minute the bays and estuaries need water too. That was the problem with the whooping cranes. We weren’t putting enough fresh water to de-sal the water so the crabs could grow so the whooping cranes could eat them.”
There’s also the issue of how landowners get compensated when their land is taken from them.
“You take this land that’s in the base of this reservoir from the landowners. They had a good farm there that’s been in the family for a hundred and fifty years, and you take that land from them and you say, well, we’ll pay you for it. We’ll pay you the fair market value. Well. I’d rather have my land back.”
Small believes the answer to the compensation question lies in oil and gas law.
“What would be wrong, how do we do it with oil and gas? If there’s oil and gas underneath it, the royalty goes to the landowner and gets a little benefit from the fact that he had oil under his land. If he’s in the bottom of a reservoir, what’s wrong with giving him a royalty the same way?”
I’m Kailey Carey, taking a look at Central Texas agriculture, From The Ground Up.