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NEWS: Texas “Rule of Capture” Fight Heats Up

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posted on Nov, 14 2004 @ 10:31 PM
"Rule of capture" water rights are fightin’ words in Texas. Editorials are flying from the Amarrillo Globe News to the Dallas Morning News around and back again. Oil baron and corporate raider T. Boone Pickens plans to make billions selling water instead of oil. By the state’s right of capture law, Picken’s Mesa Water venture will siphon water from the Ogallala-High Plains aquifer. The aquifer is a prehistoric underground river running under portions of Texas and seven other states. It’s America’s most important fresh water source. One problem – the Ogallala is already almost sucked dry.
“Everyone has an understanding of what the ultimate goal is – to preserve water for the future – for without it, this region ceases to be viable.”

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"As the 79th legislative session approaches, the rule of capture is likely to come under growing attack," warns an editorial in the Dallas Morning News on November 14, insisting "The water rules work." Three days earlier, another Dallas Morning editorial encouraged readers to "talk about conserving resources." In mid-October, the Amarrillo Globe said, "The 2005 Legislature should address rule of capture, reaching a compromise that not only guarantees the rights of property owners, but also the future of Texas."

Pickens formed Mesa Water in 1999. The company plans to build a pipeline, tap into the Ogallala-High Plains aquifer from different properties in four counties in the Texas Panhandle, and pump the water to the Dallas-Fort Worth region, or maybe El Paso.

Ogallala water is not just Texas’ business, it’s a national crisis, says Amarrillo Globe’s Coneway, who recommends water conservation. "The Ogallala Aquifer represents the lifeblood of a large portion of the central United States," he wrote in 2002.

The Ogallala aquifer is a huge prehistoric underground river lying beneath 174,000 square miles of land, including the US "breadbasket." It provides water to several cities and industries, and supplies the water used to grow most of the nation’s food.

Loss of the Ogallala doesn’t just mean trouble for a few ranchers and farmers, it threatens America with food shortages, and maybe rationing or starvation.

Portions of the Ogallala-High Plains aquifer were already depleted in 2000 and others were "near depletion," according to US Geological Survey reports. By February of 2003, scientists discovered the water level was dropping faster than it did in the last decade, reported U.S. Water News. "Drought is speeding up depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer" so much that a University of Kansas researcher calls the problem "as pressing or more pressing" than it ever has been before.

In fact, it was known the Ogallala-High Plains was being depleted by the 1970’s. Recent accelerated climate changes and related drought conditions simply sped up the process.

Spurred by the drought, the Senate passed bill S 212 on April 7 of 2003 to provide funds to study the High Plains aquifer’s depletion. The U.S. Geological Survey’s 2003-04 report warned that the whole nation is facing serious fresh water shortages. Saltwater is intruding into coastal groundwater on both coasts, the High Plains and other aquifers face depletion, and fresh water is becoming scarcer everywhere in the USA.

Water Security should have been an election issue, but it was buried under panic about terrorist threats. So life in the US will continue unaware, until the water is gone and the food disappears. As always, Bush will support big government when it curtails civil rights, but not when it will protect the nation’s water supplies from corporate predators, or preserve America’s ability to produce food for ordinary Americans.

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[edit on 14-11-2004 by Banshee]

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