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The QueQue

The QueQue: State murder? Nothing to see here, High jail suicide rate continues, Sleepy shale watchdogs, Cost of healthy aquifer going up

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Que2 found 12 of the 22 members on the task force come straight out of the oilfield and oilfield services side of the equation, and two more members are economic development or jobs-training folks unlikely to challenge the allure of business the Eagle Ford has promised to ignite. After that, we’ve got a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality rep (enough said?) and a mixed bag of politicos, (one of whom, with Facebook postings like “Repeal obamacare” and “Yes to natural gas,” doesn’t inspire confidence).

Only four members of the task force tout real environmental bona fides that may keep water and air cleanliness at the top of their to-do list.

Cost of healthy aquifer going up

A series of meetings on proposed new fees for water users around parched Greater San Antonio continues this week and next. While an official recommendation on how best to maintain minimal spring flows on the Comal and San Marcos rivers during severe drought — and keep San Antonio on the good side of federal and state regulators in the process — is not expected until October, but it’s got a price tag with it. For the “average” San Antonio Water System customer using around 7,788 gallons per year, plan on an additional pass-through fee from the utility of between $4 and $4.23 per month (or about 7 percent), according to Dan Crowley, SAWS’ director of financial planning. The money will go to offset additional pumping fees that the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Plan wants to implement on industrial and city wells tapping the Edwards Aquifer. While Edwards Aquifer Authority spokesperson Roland Ruiz said those fees could be between an additional $39 and (“worst-case scenario”) $116 per acre-foot of water pumped, the EARIP has unofficially proposed a minimum of $64 per acre-foot — requiring $10 million to launch and another $20 million per year thereafter, Ruiz said. On top of that, the EAA will also likely seek increases to pay for water-conservation rebates used to pay off growers (whose pumping is capped by state law at $2 per acre-foot) who choose not to irrigate in a given year. For the past few years, the EAA has paid out an estimated $3 million in rebates to growers per year, but the figure is growing, Ruiz said. “It could be that our board chooses to do something different with that rebate number,” Ruiz said. “If that happens, that number could come down.”

Among the industrial pumpers to be impacted by the additional fees requested by EARIP, the largest users are likely the rock quarries. So expect another “pass-through” when you’re building that stone deck.•

 

Thu Aug 11

6pm Edwards Aquifer Authority, Conference Center 1615 N St. Mary’s St

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