Hands Across the Water
How the 57-Year Dispute Over the Edwards Aquifer Began, Persisted, and Was Resolved
By Todd H. Votteler
The Edwards Aquifer is the primary source of water for a region in South-Central Texas that includes San Antonio and irrigated agriculture to the west. In 1993, a federal district court ruled that the Endangered Species Act required that adequate flows from the springs be ensured for the endangered species. The Texas Legislature responded to the court by establishing the Edwards Aquifer Authority to regulate groundwater withdrawals. In 2007, with a key deadline looming to create a species protection plan, the Texas Legislature intervened again and mandated that the rival regional water interests engage in a stakeholder process to develop the plan. That process resulted in a diverse group of opposing interests collaborating to develop, approve, fund, and implement the landmark Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan, which is in its 10th year of implementation.
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