September 18, 2013

Is LCRA going to get sued over #ESA, as its head resigns?

Becky Motal, LCRA general manager
The Lower Colorado River Authority is asking to be exempt from having to send water to Matagorda Bay for environmental reasons.

Given that the LCRA itself lists a number of legally threatened or endangered species that live, in part, in the bay, on page 31 and following of this PDF about the bay's health, and given that Texas Parks and Wildlife says that freshwater flow is essential to the bay's health, and that the list includes whooping cranes and several species of sea turtle, and that whoopers and water flow on the Guadalupe have already landed in court, (although appealed by Mr. I Sue Obama), I'd say the answer to my rhetorical question is a very likely yes.

That said, because commercial fisherman and birdwatchers would also benefit from at least a trickle of additional water, if this goes to court, and Abbott again appeals an environmentally favorable ruling, he may be in a bit of a constituent/potential voter bind.

And it looks like all the drought-related water management hassles have become too much for LCRA General Manager Becky Motal. She's stepping down. No effective date mentioned. Per the story, and having met her in person, and having previously worked at a newspaper in the Highland Lakes, I know the board seemed fine with her work. So, the opening sentence of this paragraph isn't snarky, flippancy or a joke. She may be tired of the water juggling.

And, not just for this year. She probably was worried about the possibility of facing as much as five more years of these issues and worse. Per a recent story in my newspaper:
With 85 percent of the state still under drought conditions, and climatologists predicting the drought may continue or worsen in the coming months, it may be wishful thinking that there may be enough rain for winter forages to emerge, much less maintain growth, Larry Redmon, AgriLife Extension state forage specialist in College Station, said recently.
Not only do climatologist predict a droughty fall for much of the state, but the long-range forecasts are for five or more years of at least some degree of continued drought, Redmon said.
Matagorda Bay will be at least half-dead and jammed with dry rice hulls from dry rice farms by then. (Right now, at Wharton, its flow is 19 cubic feet per second.)

Certainly, LCRA's idea for making lake levels in Lake Austin more "flexible" upset rich people (who probably included neolib Democrats as well as Republicans).

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