300 Years of Groundwater Management, Charles Porter

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300 Years of Groundwater Management, Charles Porter

  1. 1. 300 Years of WaterManagement in Texas:From Viceroys to GCDsBy: Charles Porter, Assistant Professor of History St. Edward’s University charlp@stedwards.edu www.charlesporter.com
  2. 2. “Water doesn’t run downhill . . . it runs towards money.” Dr. David Weber, SMU, 1976
  3. 3. Spain by Ortelius in 1588 -“La Mancha” or “The Blot” “Respect for water was bred in the bone of the Spaniard.”
  4. 4. Droughts and Deluges in San Antonio 1700 - 1900
  5. 5. 1891 Water Wells at siteof today’s ArnesonRiver Theatre on theRiverwalkDrilled by M.C. Judson forBrackenridge’s Water WorksCompany – 3,000,000 gpd artesian.Brack had little choice – had to finda “pure” source of water in “theamount the City of San Antonio”required or default on the contract.Unintended Consequence?Brack’s homestead spring, SanAntonio Spring, dried up. Bracksold his homestead to the Sisters ofCharity of the Incarnate Word.By 1920, over 100 deep wells drilledinto the aquifer in Bexar County.
  6. 6. 1900 – 1979 Drought in Texas
  7. 7. Pucek/Blumberg Catfish Farm
  8. 8. Plus a Mile of New Water Line
  9. 9. The “Cat” Case – 9 LivesBragg v. EAA - “Pitch ‘til you win”Judge Tom Lee’s ruling – take note. Market Value Declarations:• Irrigated land $3,200 - $3,500 per acre premium• Water at $5,500 per acre-foot
  10. 10. Let’s apply Judge Lee’s finding to Day McDaniel: $3,300 per acre X appx. 400 acres = $1,320,000(irrigated farm versus dryland farm) $5,500 per acre-foot on 686 acre-feet = $3,773,000(value of an acre-foot of water) Grand Total Compensation ? $5,093,000 or $12,733/acre
  11. 11. Hard Choice Between Urban & Rural The problem – everyone is right, everyone has rights, and everyone is doing their duty!
  12. 12. . . . but at the core, the fundamental issue is that in our state there simply is not enough firm-yield water to support the existing population and growth that is already occurring. Kirk Holland, P.G., General Manager, Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District
  13. 13. New Publications - PorterSharing the Common Pool: Water Rights in the Everyday Lives of Texans – Spring, 2013“The History of W. A. East v. Houston and Texas Central Railway Company, 1904: Establishment of the Rule of Capture in Texas Water Law or ‘He Who Has the Biggest Pump Gets the Water’” East Texas Historical Journal 50th Anniversary Edition, Vol. 2, 2012East Texas Historical Association, PO Box 6223Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX 75962-6223 - $7.95 per copy
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