DEL RIO, TEXAS - JAN. 30, 2020 - Val Verde County is home to several unique water resources, including the Devils River, Rio Grande, Amistad Reservoir, Pecos River and San Felipe Creek. These surface waters are fed by groundwater from the complex Edwards-Trinity Aquifer and widely considered as abundant and pure. For decades, these waters have remained the primary source of drinking water for Val Verde County and many communities south of Del Rio, Texas, supported eco-tourism and agricultural industries, and contributed to upwards of 1/3 of the downstream flows to the Rio Grande.
Unfortunately, Val Verde County does not have a groundwater conservation district or water management plan of any type. Groundwater resources are therefore subject to the “Rule of Capture”, an English common law that allows any landowner to pump as much groundwater as they are able without consequence and regardless of the impact to rivers, lakes, creeks, municipal water supply, or neighboring landowners.
In response, the Devils River Conservancy has launched an initiative called, “Water. The Consequences?” to campaign for smart groundwater management in Val Verde County to protect municipal water supplies, environmental flows, and private property rights.
“Without a plan, the future of Val Verde’s water is unknown,” said The Devils River Conservancy. “Will your grandchildren have the opportunity to fill a stock tank, swim in San Felipe Creek, marvel at the turquoise waters of the Devils River or learn to fish on Lake Amistad?”
By 2070, the Texas Water Development Board expects the population of Texas to increase more than 70 percent, from 29.5 million to 51 million. Water demand is also projected to increase by over three million acre-feet per-year to meet population growth. Resource-rich regions like Val Verde County, will be targeted to fulfill the growing water demand of nearby cities and industries; the county has already received proposals to market water to San Angelo and San Antonio.
“Water has been the lifeblood of Val Verde County for thousands of years,” said Devils River Conservancy Advisory Board Member Dell Dickinson. “If we misuse it, we eventually lose it and this region will suffer immensely. Our goal then is to avoid the same fate that the city of Fort Stockton endured regarding their beloved Comanche Springs. And, to do that - unlike the city of Fort Stockton which did nothing and suffered the resultant consequences – we must proactively manage our groundwater such that future generations continue to be blessed with this most valuable resource. Bottom line, doing nothing is no longer a viable option!”
If Val Verde County does not conserve and manage the amount of groundwater that is pumped from the region, it can lead to several detrimental impacts.
Large-scale groundwater pumping can impact surface water flows in the same watershed. Depending on the location of wells, there can be impacts to San Felipe Creek or other surface waters in the region.
More than 1 million people visit the county’s state and federal parks for hunting, fishing, paddling and bird watching - all of which are water-dependent activities.
Val Verde’s $25 million per year tourism industry could be at stake if water is depleted from our region, leaving many residents without jobs.
The surface water systems converge in Val Verde County service both U.S. and neighboring Mexican territories.
If Val Verde County does not create a management plan, ungoverned pumping could affect water levels in Amistad Reservoir and impede the U.S.’s ability to meet the needs of the 1944 Water Treaty.
Val Verde County is home to several threatened and endangered aquatic species such as The Texas Hornshell Mussel, The Devils River Minnow, and the Mexican Blindcat.
In accordance with the Endangered Species Act, if we do not protect the required habitat and water these animals need to survive, this could incite federal action and encroach upon private property rights.
“Water. The Consequences?” encourages citizens to get involved and advocate for responsible groundwater management and protection.
*Join neighbors and friends for a Water Talk with the candidates for State Legislature*
Monday, February 24 at 5:30 p.m.
The Paul Poag Theater in downtown Del Rio, Texas.