Monday, March 17, 2014

"A good time to be a water attorney in Texas"


From the NYT:
66 Texas towns and electric utilities [were] exempted from a [water] cutoff for health and safety reasons, even though hundreds of farmers and others who lost their water held more senior rights.

And here's an issue I heard about a lot while growing up:

In Colorado, officials in the largely rural west slope of the Rocky Mountains are imposing stiff restrictions on requests to ship water across the mountains to Denver.

The Western Slope just might win that one, but it may not matter. The Colorado River is crucial to five states. And that's not the only important river that starts in Colorado: ever heard of the Rio Grande? I've seen the words "flush: Texas needs the water" scribbled on bathroom walls in the San Luis Valley, and many in the Colorado basin feel about the same way about Phoenix, Las Vegas, and southern California.

Here's a typical observation about the urban/rural split:

Farmers and others downstream complained that they were surrendering their water while Austin residents continued to wash their cars, groom golf courses and water their lawns.

I alluded to this in my note on landlords: In the long run, does anyone think that the legal water claims of rural interests have a chance against the cities?

I wish I knew more about this topic. It's at least clear that the current legal and market framework will not withstand the coming stress. After hearing about officials in big cities begging people to reduce their toilet flushing but keeping the golf courses running, it's hard not to think that using prices would be an improvement.

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