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Joe Moore, Jr.

INTERVIEWEE: Joe Moore, Jr. (JM)
DATE OF INTERVIEW: June 22, 1999
LOCATION: San Marcos, Texas
TRANSCRIBER: Robin Johnson
REELS 2017 and 2018

Boldfaced numbers mark the time codes and reel numbers, respectively, for the VHS tape copy of the interview. “Misc.” refers to various off-camera conversation or background noise, unrelated to the interview.

DT: My name is David Todd. I’m here for the Conservation History Association of Texas. It’s June 22, 1999. We’re in San Marcos, Texas at Southwest Texas State University and we have the pleasure to interview Mr. Joe Moore, Jr. and to talk about his many contributions to conservation to the state, especially in the fields of water supply and water quality but including many other areas as well. I want to take this chance to thank you for participating.
JM: Glad to do that.
DT: I’d like to start out by asking you if there might have been any early influences in your life, you parents, early teachers you might have had, friends, other kinds of mentors who might have led to your interest in conservation and the outdoors and natural resources?
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JM: You asked about my early exposure to the outdoors or conservation issues. I grew up on a farm. We had 4 different pieces of property that we farmed in northeast Texas and I grew up in the days when we didn’t have electricity or running water or paved roads. We did camp and one of the earliest camping trips I remember is one we took by wagon from the house to the Red River, 30 miles. Took us 2 days to get there. The team wasn’t all that anxious to make the trip. We camped for a week on the—on the bank of the Red River. Also when we eventually got an automobile, 1928 Dodge, we used to go over to Broken Bowl, Oklahoma where there was an old Civilian Conservation Corp camp that had—that we used for Boy Scout trips. And so I did get that sort of exposure. Now as to conservation itself, since we were involved with agriculture, my exposure was in the agricultural sense and the early conservation programs were rudimentary in today’s terms but my father was involved in that. We did terracing which the neighboring farmers thought was absolutely silly to put all those curved obstructions on the land when you could plow straight up and down when it would be a lot simpler to plow and all those crooked rows were just a waste of time. So he was involved in conservation in a agricultural sense but we didn’t—and—and we had guns and we hunted, not an awful lot. We didn’t do the kinds of hunting that you would do today. We didn’t have deer although we had bobwhite quail that an uncle of mine used to come hunt and we’d occasionally go with him. But we trapped in—in ways that today wouldn’t be politically acceptable with metal spring traps and—and even the Boy Scout handbook had—had descriptions of how you could build traps to catch animals. And we caught skunks and possums and skinned them. But that sort of activity was the—and we fished because there were—there were streams around you could fish in. There are not fish there today but we had fish there in
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those days. We also used to picnic a lot. The land was not as restricted as it is—as it is today and a lot of it was undeveloped. And so we could go places and just go out on the land and picnic. We did a lot of that. There was an—there was outdoor exposure and through scouts. My father was Scoutmaster. We were unusual farmers in that he had attended Texas A&M University for a couple of years before World War I and my mother had attended the University of Texas at Austin and so—and they were both school teachers before they farmed, teaching what today would be unusual subjects. My mother taught English and Latin which is not even taught in high schools today. And my father—my father taught mathematics and history. We also had, on both sides of the family, where there were teachers in Cleburne, Texas and Fort Worth Schools. We had teachers in the family, my aunts and uncles, a lot of them were teachers. So we were exposed a lot to education. We were exposed differently from the young people who were in—lived in the farms around us because of my parents’ background.
DT: You mentioned that your father did contour plowing and I was wondering if you could mention any of his concerns about soil erosion or other issues?
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JM: The—the—these were designed for soil erosion of course and for water retention. If you contour the land properly, you can trap more water and get it—you don’t have to build a dam in a lake. You can trap water and the—the—the terraces, we called them, were designed primarily for both the water and the soil retention. This land—we were—
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we were on both sand and black land with mixed land in between. The sand land was subject to erosion. Part of this land, my father had cleared with a team, cutting the trees down and digging the stumps up by hand. Pulling the stumps out with—with a team of mules. And that land had a tendency to erode on the hills and then the—the soil would collect in the—in the lowlands. But we practiced not only that kind of soil conservation, in those days we fertilized with manure from the barn but we also—there was a program that paid people to grow legumes, peas. And there was a pea check that every farmer got in the summer time for growing black eyed peas. You weren’t supposed to pick them—you could pick the peas but you—you—no I take it back. You could not even pick the peas. You were supposed to plow the whole thing under. But, of course, nearly everybody picked the peas anyway. But the object—the—the legumes would place nitrogen in the soil and that was the way—we—we—one of the ways we improved the quality of the soil.
DT: Did the Dust Bowl extend to your part of the…
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JM: Yes, yes, the—we—the Dust Bowl would come in from the—from the west. This was in the ‘30’s. I was born in 1924 so I went through the depression and the Dust Bowl days. We could see the dust coming in a—in a—and you could see it coming on the horizon before it ever got there and then it would turn the—turn the day into a—a dull day just from the dust. We also had forest fires just to the north of us. We had nearly
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twenty miles of timber and we had forest fires on the north. The Talco(?) Oil Field was developed south of us. And, in those days, natural gas was flared so we had what we called the southern lights. At night, you could watch the glow on the southern horizon that was the burning the gas off of the East Texas Oil Field which, by the way, turned out to be a disaster because once they took the gas pressure off, the oil solidified to the consistency of asphalt and they had to wait until technology developed so they could recover the oil. But we—we had that kind of—that kind of environment. We went through the Dust Bowl, the drought.
DT: I’d like to talk about your days as a budget examiner and administrative aide to Governor Connally in the early ‘60’s. Explain why Governor Connally changed water law and water agencies and how.
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JM: The—this was in the ‘60’s. I went to work for the governor in 1963 when he was first elected in his budget office. There I was the number two person in the budget office but the area of responsibility I had was primarily public and higher education. Colleges and Universities and public schools including junior colleges but I also assisted the budget director for the whole budget. In the—in 1967, I’m sorry, in 196—it would have been 1964, the—there was a situation developing involving the federal agencies. The Corp of Engineers in the Department and the Army Corp of Engineers and the Department of Defense. And the Bureau of Reclamation and the Department of
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Interior and the Soil Conservation Service and the Department of Agriculture were all involved in water development in Texas. The state was divided at the 100th meridian with the Bureau of Reclamation generally responsible west of that and the Corp of Engineers responsible east of that. Lyndon Johnson had gotten—created something called U.S. Study Commission Texas which issued a report having to do with water development in Texas. Since it was done primarily under the auspices of a congressional act and with federal agencies, the primary emphasis was—was upon the role of the federal agencies and water development. At the same time, there was conflict between the Corp of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation over who was going to do what in this water development process. There was a man named Harry Burley with the Bureau of Reclamation who was in the Austin office of the—of the agency. He and Lyndon Johnson had a close personal relationship. If Burley wanted something, he didn’t go through the chain of command up in the Department of Interior, he went to Lyndon Johnson. When Lyndon Johnson became president, he had his office in the federal building in Austin and Harry Burley had his office in the same building so all Harry had to do was go upstairs if he wanted to get something done in water in Texas. Strange as it may seem, even though Connally and—and Johnson were close personally, Johnson was concerned—I mean, Connally was concerned about the dominance of the federal agencies and water source development. In 1964, the then Chief Engineer and—and the Chair of the old Board of Water Engineers came to see Governor Connally. Joe Carter was his name. He’s dead now. The Chief Engineer was John Vandertulip(?). He’s now in El Paso. He retired from the International Boundary and Water Commission but they
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came to the governor saying we’re going to be dominated. Our water development is going to be dominated by the federal agencies unless the state does something. And so Governor Connally granted the Board of Water Engineers an interim extra appropriation out of emergency funds that were available to him to initiate a water planning effort. That water planning effort then—that started in between legislative sessions. By the time the 1965 legislature convened, there had been a study done by the Texas Research League when was then a very powerful, privately funded research organization. They had been given the assignment to determine what ought to be done with the organizational water agencies in Texas. They came out with the recommendation that the planning function should be moved from the Board of Water Engineers to the Texas Water Development Board, an agency created after the drought in the ‘50’s to provide financial assistance for water supply projects for political subdivisions which could not finance their own water development. And so that recommendation led to significant legislation in 1965 legislative session. But it was all initiated primarily as a reaction to the potential effect of the federal government. I had been handling, in the budget office remember, at higher education. In the 1965 legislative session, the governor had two emphases, higher education and water development. In the discussion with the governor where my role shifted from the budget office to being administrative assistant, George Christian and the governor and I were discussing this and he talked about what he wanted to do in higher education because I’d had experience in that field. But the—the—and he was—the governor was interrupted by telephone calls and so, in the process, when we finished and were about to leave, George Christian looked at me and said, did he mention water? And
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I said, no he didn’t mention water. And George says, well you’ll handle water too. So I—that’s how I got in the water business, was—was the decision that I would handle water in the 1965 legislative session and there were four major pieces of legislation that had to go through. We got three of them passed during that session of the legislature and that is the statute that created the requirement for the first 50 year water plan. There had been a water plan done under Price Daniel’s administration that covered 20 years from 1960 to 1980. That water plan did not predict shortage in the state because the time frame was too short. Once we got into the planning effort for 196—for the 1965 effort then we realized there was going to be—the—the state was already approaching deficit in total if you take the state as a—a—an hydrologic unit. But the governor’s emphasis was on water and education and we got the—those programs substantially through that session of legislature. Now as to what you do, since we were shifting the planning function, there were going to be 240 employees moved from the Board of Water Engineers to the Water Development Board and the question was, who should head up the staff? And the governor came to me and said, who should do this and after doing some thinking and going—I went back to him and said, governor the person that should do this is John Simmons, the general manager of the—of the Civilian River Authority. And he said okay, talk to him and see if—now you understand there was a six member board but the governor dominated that board by his appointees and so he was, in effect, going to influence the selection of the executive director of the Water Development Board. So I called John Simmons and said, the governor and I have been talking about the Water Development Board, would you take that position? And he said, I probably would if you
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twisted my arm but don’t twist my arm. I’d rather stay where I am. So I went back to the governor and says he would do it but reluctantly. And you won’t believe it but I ended up as Executive Director of Water Development Board. That happened because Stuart Long, a newspaper man who wrote for the San Angelo Standard Times and the Corpus—the San Angelo—I believe it was Standard Times and Corpus Christi Caller Times and was a stringer for the New York Times, wrote an article speculating about who was going to be Executive Director and he put my name in the list. And Stuart used to come by to see me and I said, Stuart, what are you doing listing me? And he said oh well, I couldn’t reach you and I—so I went ahead and put your name in. So I laughed about it. Two weeks later, he put out another article and he listed me and Larry Temple, another governor’s—one of the governor’s assistants and George Christian. So I went and told George and Larry, that’s my job. You can’t have that. I got listed first and—and kidding with Stuart. And then there was a man head of the Water Conservation Association, had an enormous influence on water planning and development in Texas named Judge Sturick(?). He’d been a county judge in Woodville, Texas. Well Judge Sturick came by and I—we were talking about the Water Development Board and I said, well what do you think about the speculation that I might become Executive Director? And he says, we’re behind you. And I said, you’re what? I said that’s a—that’s a—people are going to expect that to be a engineer. He said, no, we’re behind you. Well nevertheless, I ended up as Executive Director of the Water Development Board. The governor turned me loose to go—to go be the Executive Director of the Water Development Board. Now you want to know how things happen? That’s the way I got in the water business. First off, with a casual comment by George Christian that says, you’ll handle water too. And when we—when the decision was made, we were in governor’s staff meeting with nine staff assistants and the question before them was, should Joe Moore go over and be Executive Director of Water Development Board. And it kind of went around the room and everybody expressed their opinions. I have pictures that were taken that day. It’s a—it’s a historic day for me.
DT: Would you start by describing what the basic problem of water and water supply distribution in the state is?
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JM: Yes it—what—what is the problem with water supply in Texas. The governor actually had made the statement and we began with the assumption that there was enough water for everybody and for all the nee—needs that we had at the time. The proposals that had been made were restricted to—the federal proposals were restricted to the river basins from the Neches through the Nueces. It excluded the Sabine, the Red River, the Canadian River, the Pecos and the Rio Grande. It excluded all the international river—I mean, the interstate or international rivers. And so the governor emphasized we needed a plan for the—the needs of the entire state. The excess water in
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terms of yield lies in the eastern river basins, generally from the Trinity to the east. The shortage lies from the Brazos to the west or—or the projected shortage. You understand we planned both ground and surface water uses but they are governed differently under state law. And so the agencies, the state agencies, had no jurisdiction over groundwater allocation. The Texas Water Commission and now the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission have the responsibility for allocating surface water. Wherever we could, we relied on groundwater because it is cheaper to pump than it is to build dams and transport the water to the points of need. The population is not distributed according to the availability of water. It’s distributed obviously based on individual choices of persons as where they wish to live plus economic considerations. There has to be adequate economic development to support a population anywhere and so if the—the water needs arise where the people are unless you’re dealing with irrigation and then the combination of soil and weather influence the water needs. In Texas, the majority of the water is used for irrigation by far, even today in the range of 80 to 90%, depending upon how you calculate it. So irrigation is a significant water demand. We soon recognized that the irrigation on the Texas High Plains over the Ogalalla Aquifer would cause the state to be in deficit. It—our prediction in those days and this is 1965, was that irrigation would begin declining on the Texas High Plains in the mid ‘80’s unless something was done to provide water. The agri business interests in this state then had enormous political influence and still do. They claim major economic benefits to the state. They probably claim more than is actually justified. On the other hand, the—the lesser populated regions of the eastern part of the state tend to believe that the water is “ours”
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and if you want our water, you must come to our part of the state to use it. As a matter of fact, the state constitution that sets up the—the state’s right to conserve the resources of the states specifically requires that the water of the entire state be held in trust for the people of the entire state. And so on a purely factual basis, it’s not our water. It belongs to all the people of the state. We had to begin with persuading the eastern sections of the state that they had a—a vital economic interest in the well being of the Texas High Plains and vice versa. Tell audiences in the High Plains that you must be concerned about what happens in Houston and Galveston and Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange and Dallas/Fort Worth, Waco and San Antonio and so on. Very difficult arguments. We got into them in the legislature. Senator Long, strangely enough from Longview, but Senator Long represented the eastern interests. Since we were doing a 50 year water plan, they wanted a guarantee that the water requirements of the eastern basins would be met in any event. Working with—with Senator Long who was handling the governor’s—some of the governor’s education legislation for public schools, the governor said, you must accommodate his interest. The—the sponsor of the legislation was Senator Parkhouse from Dallas. He was a—a character in the senate. He’d been a character in the House before he went to the senate. But Parkhouse and—well between Parkhouse and Strong we had to work out a—a resolution of the eastern basin/western basin dispute. And the compromise was a requirement that was written into the constitution and into the planning statute that the reasonably foreseeable future water requirements for the next ensuing 50 years period in the eastern basins would be protected in the planning process. The intent was that the plans be revised every five years and so the 50 year planning
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horizon would move forward every five years and as it moved forward, there had to be a guarantee for the eastern basins that their reasonably foreseeable future water requirements would be protected. This survived in the house. When it got in the senate—I mean, it survived in the senate. The bill was passed first in the senate. When it got in the house, they started tampering with some of the legislation. Made Parkhouse unhappy. Parkhouse was an irreverent senator though very effective. He was—he was deformed as a result of a—of a automobile accident. One leg was shorter than the other. One arm was unusable. He had a shock of gray hair and a—and a frightening face. I mean, he could give you a scowl that would wither you. Very irreverent. He called Governor Connally, God. And Larry Temple, the first assistant was St. Peter. And I was the Angel Gabriel. So, I was going to the law school at the time and I got into work one morning and the secretary said, Senator Parkhouse called for the Angel Gabriel. And Parkhouse was absolutely livid because the language of his bill was being tampered with in the house. And so I went over and he dressed me down and—and ended up by saying, I’m going into the senate this morning and pull down every bit of this legislation and I will not sponsor it anymore. And he got all through with his tirade and I looked at him and I said, I’m sorry senator but you can’t do that. And that calmed him down and we went on from there. I said, if the language is changed and they—once they’ve settled on what the language is going to be, I said, you’ll have a chance to veto it before it is ever written into the house side. But we had those kinds of problems in—in getting the legislation passed because of this east/west split. That language survived in the planning statute until the 1991 legislative session and unfortunately it was taken out which has precipitated the
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east/west conflict all over again because the water is still in the east. What—what water there is left is still in the east. And that—that is probably the most significant water issue today is the question of innovation transfers. We resolved it at that time. Now the constitutional provision is still there. No money from the Texas Water Development Fund can be spent unless you can guarantee that the—and the constitution has the same language that’s in the statute—that you can guarantee the eastern basin’s water. We had on the board a member from Petersburg, Texas which is on the Texas High Plains, a man named Marvin Sherbert(?). His name is recorded in history because he was the plaintiff in a suit against the Internal Revenue Service under which the right for a water depletion allowance was confirmed by the U.S. Courts in the income tax process. The Texas High Plains, at that time, was the only place in the United States where those who were pumping the water and lowering the water table could get a depletion allowance for the decline in the water table each year under their—under their income tax filings. Well Marvin was dead set on building a river to—to Lubbock and so he influenced this six member board to such an extent that we had to plan and—and when the plan—that plan actually came out, it called for turning the Sabine River around. The Sabine River would flow north and east—north and west instead of—instead of east and south. You would actually pump the Sabine backwards and it would cross over at the upper end into the sulfur and go—there would be a canal the width of an interstate highway right-of-way, 60 or 70 feet wide and as deep as 18 feet that would run from the point above Dallas to Lubbock. You would, in effect, pump over 500,000 acre feet a year, 300 miles and lift it 3000 feet and deliver—there would be a—there would be a delivery also to eastern New
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Mexico on—on this delivery system. But the water would go all the way to Lubbock. There was—it would—the—it would have required 4 ½ billion dollars and there was a 4 ½ billion dollar bond issue placed on the ballot. You have to do that with a constitutional amendment. It failed by 5000 votes. Had 5000 people in and over a million and a half were cast in the election but, had 5000 people in Harris County voted in favor of that constitutional amendment, they would have voted in 4 ½ billion dollars to build a water project that’s comparable to the California Water Project which takes water from Northern California all the way to Los Angeles through over a couple ranges of mountains, by the way. But that failed and that—that—that bond issue failure was—there was—there was not a bond issue that was passed between one adopted in 1967 and one adopted in 1985 that had to do with increasing the amount of money in the Water Development Fund.
DT: I understand that the State’s voters had typically decided to fund almost every water quality bond issue but had failed to give money to water supply. Can you explain why that is?
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JM: That—first off is—you can imagine the impact of a 4 ½ billion dollar bond issue in 1967—no it was later than that, would’ve been ’71, I guess. Not it was ’69. The—a bond issue that size just staggers the imagination or did then. Today it may not. You must understand we had state budgets in the range of hundreds of millions. We hadn’t
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gone over a billion dollars in state budget and now you—you know, we just adopted a state budget for two years that’s 98 billion dollars. So the billions were—were staggering numbers 30 years ago. The other thing is, generally speaking, the environmentalists have opposed the bond issues for water development. In those days, the environmental—the—the Sierra Club was not as active as it later became but the—the Texas Committee on Natural Resources, Ned Fritz was opposed to these—these plans. When we held hearings on the plan, Ned or one of his representatives appeared at every hearing. We held 35 in the state in 1966 and ’67 and somebody from that organization appeared at every one of them and opposed the water development. So you had the beginnings of—of opposition from environmentalist groups. We did not—the Sierra Club was not that active. Natural Resources Defense Council or Environmental Defense Fund were not active. They—the environmentalists were generally not strong enough to make things happen but they were strong enough to keep things from happening. And so the environmentalist organization generally prevented those bond issues from being—being adopted. Plus one other thing, some metropolitan areas solved the water problems. The cities of—the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, particularly Dallas, started after the drought of the ‘50’s to build reservoirs in the Upper Trinity and they have consistently assured their water supply for long range. Fort Worth has done the same thing. The city of San Antonio has relied on the Edwards Aquifer so they didn’t feel like they had to do anything. The City of Houston was pumping groundwater from the coastal aquifer and land subsidence was barely a problem although in the water planning effort in the ‘60’s, the staff came in and—and—and briefed me on the Houston water supply system and said, if they keep
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pumping groundwater at the rate they’re pumping, by the year 2020 which was our horizon then, the down—downtown Houston will be underwater to the first floor of every building. And I said, does anybody in Houston know that? And he said—and John Vandertulip said yes, they’re well aware of that but they weren’t telling anybody. The Houston Ship Channel industries were having to raise their docks on the Houston Ship Channel at intervals because otherwise, their docks would have gone underwater because of the—the land subsidence. There were residential areas and bay town going underwater. The—the water would just gradually—the land would just gradually subside and the water would gradually creep across the lots. I’ve seen lots down there where the house is sitting on a little mound and it’s surrounded by salt water and all the fences just go down in the bay. You could see them going down into the water. And the landowners sit there just watching. And you could look out there—there were some houses two stories and they were already underwater to the—to the second floor and the second floor was up above the water from land subsidence. This is the first—that’s the first time that the state confronted the question of the route of capture on groundwater. But—but groundwater—Houston relied on groundwater and they didn’t see the need for surface water development. We had had extensive emphasis on surface water development after the drought of the ‘50’s.
DT: Can you talk a little about the drought from the ‘50’s and what impact that had on people’s thinking about water?
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JM: Droughts of the ‘50’s had enormous impact. It was generalized all across the state. It was not regionalized and it went on for a long time. There’s a dispute about actually when did it begin. Some say it began in the ’40’s and you can look at data that suggests that we were sliding into it before we got into the ‘50’s but the drought of the ‘50’s was generalized. For example, in this area, the springs at—at Comal went dry so that there was no spring flow out of Comal springs and this spring here dropped as low as it has in the—in the record. And you’ve seen the water gushing over the—over the bridge out—over the dam out here. But the generalized drought across the state—in Austin, the land would crack so wide that it presented a hazard for walking across your yard. You could—women could trip from catching their heels and you could twist an ankle from and the cracks in the—in the—in the soil. That, at that—that precipitated the creation of the Texas Water Development Board for making loans for water development. That’s the first thing. Also eventually there was a water planning statute in 1956, one of the first ones. It also led to the—ultimately to the 1960 water plan that extended—this was under Governor Price Daniel, extended to 1980. It also generated enormous support for dam building and there was a flurry of dam building after—after the drought of the ‘50’s. There was a consequence that’s often overlooked. The drought ended with a generalized flood so we had a generalized drought followed by a catastrophic generalized flood. The Highland Lakes in Austin, the five Highland Lakes, filled up for the first time since they had been constructed and construction was started before World War II in the late ‘30’s
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and—and those lakes—Buchanan had never filled up. The landowners that owned land up there had built lakefront residences in the—in the flood plain, in the flood easement, inside the area that was to fill up with water and so when the Colorado River flooded, those buildings floated off their foundations and one of the—one of the pastimes for University of Texas students in those days was to go up to the dams and watch the houses go over. Because these enormous houses would go over the spillways and crash and—and splinter at the bottom of the—of the spillway. Plus boats—boats that were in—in boat docks were not removed quick enough and they popped through the roofs because the boat docks were anchored and the boats floated up and they eventually developed enough pressure that they literally broke through the roofs of the—of the boat docks. Enormous loss all across the state from floods. So you had drought and flood. We do our water—we—we focus on water when there’s a prospect we’ve got too little or too much and so we—in—in that context we had too little followed by too much and the consequences was enormous support for dam building. We built more dams in that frame—timeframe than have been built before or since.
DT: Can you talk a little bit about some of the dam construction projects that were more controversial?
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JM: Well you must remember that that generation of Texans remember both the drought and the flood so they weren’t all that controversial. We had some, and you understand
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I—with the Water Development Board, the other function was making these grants and loans for—for—for water projects. And one of the things we had done with the constitutional amendment that passed the legislature in 1965 was authorize the state through the Water Development Board to own water supply storage in dams, in reservoirs, behind dams. And so we could, in a federal project, pay for part of the storage in the lake with state money. In the process of doing that, Senator Parkhouse was handling the constitutional amendment on the senate side. We had the amendment in authorizing the use of $200 million for—for storage. The $200 million was already in the constitution. It was the original amount in the constitutional amendment that was put in after the drought of the ‘50’s. I didn’t—nobody from the governor’s office showed up when the bill was up for hearing in the constitutional amendments committee and so Parkhouse asked the question, does this add $200 million to the Water Development Fund or is it just relate to the existing $200 million. And so, he answered it adds $200 million. So I got my call the next morning, come around here. So I went around and he said, where—where were the governor’s people last night? And I said, I don’t know what you’re talking about. He said, had a hearing on my constitutional amendment. Said—and the constitutional amendments traditionally as a lot of bills did in those days went to automatically to subcommittee. So it had gone to the subcommittee, constitutional amendments. And he told me he had been asked the question about the 200 million or 400 million. He says, does it add 200 million? I said, no senator. He says, well you better make damn sure it adds 200 million when it comes out of committee because I don’t want to be made a liar. So we actually increased the Water Development
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Fund by $200 million because Parkhouse answered the question and we had to make sure that the—that the constitutional amendment conformed with his answer to the question and that constitutional amendment passed because Governor Connally appointed a committee to promote that amendment and Price Daniel was chair of the committee and it—it constituted the financial leadership of the state, the major contributors to the political process were on a statewide committee to promote that constitutional amendment. That’s the reason that one passed is because of a push behind it and the fact that—and the fact that we were launching this 50 year planning process. The first one—I may—I may have them out of sequence but one of the first ones we bought water supply storage in was Lake Palestine because it had been built with a low dam and they wanted to raise the dam and increase the yield behind it. The engineering staff said—it was called optimization—you optimized the size of the dam in terms of the land you flood for that site so that you get the most yield possible out of the reservoir. They said there’s not enough local money to pay for the raising the dam to the size it should be raised. And I said, okay, we’re going to put in Water Development Fund money and the staff says there will never be a buyer. There will never be anybody to buy the water. There’s—Palestine can’t buy it. There’s no project growth anywhere close that will—that will ever use the water. And I said, we’re going to do it anyway. So we took the recommendation of the board and it was—the state bought water supply storage in that reservoir. Now it sat there for some years. Now they’re building a pipeline from Palestine to Dallas and that water will be a part of the water supply for the Dallas—Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. That one was controversial because of the increment of
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water that the state bought. Lake Texana, on the coast, in a coastal river basin between the Guadalupe and the Colorado, promoted by people in Edna—they came to see us about building this reservoir and Edna couldn’t buy anything much but they wanted a reservoir. And so I went down and met with the people down there and that—we actually built that reservoir with the state owning practically all of the water po—water supply storage in Lake Texana. By the way, over the strong objections of Stuart Henry with the Sierra Club. That—that was one of my first entanglements with Stuart. He said, you’re going to build a mud flat out there and so, but we built Texana. Bureau of Reclamation in the Bureau of Reclamation’s jurisdiction, by the way, so we had to deal with Harry Burley. But that reservoir is the reservoir that saved Corpus Christi’s water supply. They now have a pipeline from Corpus Christi to Texana. By the time that reservoir was built, that was controversial. There’s another one, Cooper on the Sulfur. Now the Sulfur River basin runs from northeast of the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan complex all the way to the Louisiana border. It is the most prolific undammed water supply in the state. You can get more—you can get a million and a half acre feet if you dam the Sulfur River all the way to the Louisiana border and that is now protected—that yield is now protected by an interstate compact between the states of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas so that you could build—you could build reservoirs there. But the last reservoir on the—on the western edge is Cooper. Well they were trying to build Cooper in the ‘60’s and I—we intervened and got designated as one of the co-sponsors of Cooper, the Water Development Board because, at that time, we wanted to build a pump station so we could turn the Sulfur River around make it flow west instead
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of east and so we wanted to be in on the planning of Cooper. Well that delayed Cooper until the—they just completed Cooper in the late ‘80’s. It’s now impounding water but we delayed that reservoir and some of the water interests up there always blamed it on me because we delayed that reservoir to the point to where archeological interests became strong enough. And the wife of a member of the Texas Water Development Board was an archeology student at the University of North Texas working on a—I believe a Ph.D. and there were Indian Mounds in the reservoir site. And so that reservoir had to be delayed until all the Indian artifacts could be removed. And that environmental issue came in there. That also came in on Big Sandy, a reservoir on—tributary of the Sabine that was—was built by the Sabine River Authority and—and public power interest. There was another reservoir planned on the Sab—a tributary of the Sabine that had a private gun club, hunting club with members from Dallas primarily. Rich people who went out there to hunt and the Sabine River Authority had a reservoir proposed there. This hunt club didn’t want the reservoir because they would be deprived of their hunting opportunities. And so they found a way under federal statute to transfer a perpetual conservation easement to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and once that easement was accepted by the Fish & Wildlife Service, it forever preempts any reservoir being built on that site. That was litigated by the Sabine River Authority and went all the way up the court system and the—the Authority lost. That—that reservoir site is gone. Those kinds of environmental issues—the question of mitigation for reservoir sites. There was a Brazos River reservoir where they were going to inundate bottomlands. Unfortunately, you can’t build a reservoir on a hill so you’re always going to build them in the lowlands.
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And because of—because of erosion and transport of soils, the bottomlands are always richer than the—than the hills would be. And so bottomlands also have hardwoods in them and we’ve depleted the hardwoods in the state. So you get—you get a different eco system in bottomlands. So the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department had become active and were insisting that you couldn’t flood these bottomlands unless you mitigated by providing an equal amount of mitigation land somewhere else in the state. So the issue of mitigation got caught up in this reservoir and the water interests were absolutely appalled that you would have to—that the—that purchasers or the users of the water would have to pay not only for the reservoir site, but for an equal amount of land somewhere else that substituted for the reservoir site because of what it was doing to the habitat. And so that was a controversial issue. That was litigated and—and the Brazos River Authority ended up buying the mitigation lands. So the concept of mitigation was embedded. There’s a reservoir on the Trinity, the Wallisville Reservoir, which is what you call a re-regulating reservoir. The—there are reservoirs on the Trinity but it is undammed from the Upper Trinity to Lake Livingston and then there’s nothing between Lake Livingston and the coast. So the idea was that the Wallisville Reservoir would kept—would catch the spill, particularly in the dry season and you would catch the balance of the water that you didn’t have to let go for freshwater inflows in the Wallisville Reservoir. And that one was—the construction was started and it’s been litigated for 20 or 25 years now and has never been and may never be completed. Very controversial. Went up and down the federal court system 2 or 3 times over environmental impact statement issues.
DT: Can you talk about some of the proponents for water supply projects and some of the opponents and how you tried to arbitrate through them?
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JM: Well the primary proponents, of course, were the Texas Water Conservation Association. Historically been—de—despite the fact that it has the word conservation in it, they have been the proponents of—of water development, the water hustlers as Stuart Henry would call them. But you must remember that was the major state water organization and still—and still is on the—on the proponent side. It was—it was always made up of a combination of river authority interests and industrial interests. And they obviously were pushing for—for water development. There is—there’s another aspect that enters into water development and that is the local community always prefers a surface water reservoir rather than a well. We used to say you can’t ski in a well and so you get a lot of local support for surface water reservoirs even though they may have available groundwater supplies. And so, you will find proponents with recreational interests, developer interest. You know, you can increase the value of land substantially if you—if you get a reservoir close by. So those generally were proponents. The opponents were usually landowners. No landowner ever wants to see their land flooded. They always say my great grandfather settled this after the civil war and we’ve got to do—we’ve got to do something about it. We can’t give up our land. But you—again, you have to build a—you have to build a reservoir where you can. So the—the other opponents were primarily either objecting to the costs, the money that’s involved or they were environmental groups, the fledgling environmental groups that gradually have
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become more and more influential. The—the environmental groups may be approaching a stage where, in the right political environment, they might be able to make things happen but largely they’re—they have generally been just re—reducing the impact or restricting what otherwise might have been done. The—the Water Conservation Association people usually relied on persons either from underground water districts or from river authorities to be their primary staff people too. The—in those days, one of the people that ran the Water Conservation Association came from Water, Inc., an organization out of Lubbock that was interested in protecting the water interests of the Texas High Plains. Billy Clayton who was Speaker of the House and who has been around a long time is a proponent of—of water development and tried several times to get legislation that would create a water development fund out of general revenue funds circ—surpluses that existed at the beginning of legislative sessions. That money would be set aside for water development. He was unsuccessful with that and he was speaker when some of the constitutional amendments that attempted to increase water development fund—money for water development not—not water quality were defeated. So he was one that was a strong—a strong proponent. Stuart—Stuart Henry probably has been the—the one around the longest that has been the opponent of water development. Ken Kramer now the—the staff head of the Sierra Club has been—has been active in recent years and again, can influence the way things—I think he had some influence possibly on senate bill 1 but can influence the way things are done. Ned Fritz was a—has always historically been an almost uncompromising opponent so sometimes he—he—his opposition has been dismissed as well, that’s Ned. Ned will always—he’ll always
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oppose them. The—the county in which I grew up proposed a very small reservoir out in the middle of nowhere and Ned Fritz—Ned announced out of Dallas that he would go up there and oppose that reservoir. It was never built for—but it was for a different reason. The—the local people were primarily are—the—the local politics are dominated by retired persons and they didn’t want to see—they didn’t want to be responsible for the additional costs that would have to make up the local share of the—of the construction of the reservoir. Is that the sort of things you’re interested in? The—the—we will—we’ll probably not see another serious dam building spree until we have exhausted all the potential of water conservation which has considerably more emphasis today than it ever did before. We—we rarely talked about achieving water by water conservation 30 years ago. The other thing that’s—that is critical is water reuse. We have to be careful about water reuse however, in—in river basins where the re—the return flows from treated wastewater facilities, either industrial or municipal, contribute to the volume of water in the water course upon which down street—downstream water rights depend. And so you can add to the surface water as San Antonio does by pumping groundwater, which until recently was governed by the rule of capture in that area, you can increase the flow on the surface water river—in the surface water streams by pumping the groundwater and then re—discharging it as treated surface water. That increases the regular flow in the San Antonio River system, the Medina River and the San Antonio River and the Guadalupe. It ultimately—you can increase the flow that way for surface water rights. In Dallas/Fort Worth, for example, if you reuse substantial portions of the Dallas/Fort Worth wastewater, you can deplete the water going into the Livingston Reservoir which
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is now the water supply—alternative water supply for the City of Houston which has reduced its demand on groundwater to 50% of what it once was. And so it—it—in the manipulation of reuse water, you have to be careful about what kind of impact you—you’re going to have on—on other sources of water supply. But—but we need to exhaust water conservation and water reuse and the most significant water conservation that needs to be done is with irrigation water supply. There are very efficient irrigation watering systems today. One of them Low Energy Precision Application called LEPA for short that is being widely adopted on the Texas High Plains because, you see, they have no foreseeable alternative source. Their only choice is to conserve what they have. So they’re much more sensitive to conservation than they once were. Plus the fact that there’s now a constitutional fund which they can secure loans for purchasing this efficient irrigation equipment, low interest loans and they have—they have taken advantage of that and extended their water supply considerably beyond what we were predicting in the ‘60’s. So as—since irrigation water supply is the major water use, then if you’re going to have significant water conservation benefits, you must concentrate on irrigation as well as municipal uses. The—the municipal uses that receive the most attention, for example, doing something about commodes or dishwashers are—or clothes washers have a—may have a great deal of—of political appeal but they don’t achieve significant water savings. Irr—on the other hand, irrigating lawns, making a tropical or sub-tropical paradise in Lubbock can be very, very water intensive or doing it in El Paso or even doing it in San Antonio. If—if I could decree something, I would decree we go to xeriscape in any area—pick a precipitation limit and say any precipitation limit above—below that you
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don’t do St. Augustine grass and—and tropical plants. You go to xeriscape like they’ve done in—in places like Arizona and some places in California. Although, you see, once California got its water project built, there’s no—then they’ve got to sell the water. The pressure is to sell it. Now that Arizona has a Central Arizona Project, they’re going to be under the same kind of pressure. Once you have the water, once you’ve expended the money, you got to sell the water in order to pay off the debt. And so you get the—the—the—in those instances, water conservation doesn’t apply but we’ll—it would be difficult to build a reservoir unless you had a severe drought and you exhausted all other alternatives.
DT: Can you tell me if there was a hurdle at any time regarding conservation and using public money to fund private landowners’ efforts to provide sufficient irrigation?
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JM: The question is, was there any dispute about using governmental funds for private expenditures. I’ve never seen that significantly debated. You must remember that often you’re in a trade-off situation and, in the year in which that irrigation fund was created, the environmentalists had finally managed to get the issue of fresh water inflow to bays and estuaries a sufficient exposure that the legislature recognized they could not get through the—the fund for irrigators unless they made an accommodation on fresh water inflows. And so that’s the first time that there’s a statutory recognition of fresh water inflows to bays and estuaries. Now it’s not yet a full fledged represent—it’s not yet a full fledged recognition. There’s not a water right for fresh water inflows. Now I had an idea in the ‘60’s about how we would handle fresh water inflows and that’s where it first came up. And—and we—and we in the water planning process for 50 years, we did it primarily because of consultants we had from San Francisco, Leeds, Hill and Jewett were the—were consultants to the development of the Texas Water Plan and they—one of their people had been with the California Water Resources Control Board and had experience with the California problems on—on San Francisco Bay Delta, for example. And so we started the process of educating people to the need for fresh water inflows. But, the accommodation that was reached in 1985 was the creation of the fund for the High Plains and the preservation or recognition of fresh water inflows to bays and estuaries. And—and that was the trade-off the—the environmentalists finally said we’ll let you go forward with additions to the—to the water development fund if you’ll give us the—the recognition of fresh water inflows. And they got the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department in the position where they now can influence any water permits that would reduce the quantity of water going into—to the bays and estuaries and the Parks & Wildlife Department has the primary responsibility with the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission and the Texas Water Development Board for determining what the fresh water inflows should be, what amount of water should be reserved for freshwater inflows. But I—I do not recall ever a dispute about using the, in effect, the credit of the State of Texas for private interests. To some degree, the Water Development Fund does that because the industries that use water get the benefit of reservoirs constructed for municipal water supply because the industrial water generally goes through a municipal system. All the Houston Ship Channel industries have been
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switched from groundwater to surface water. That was the first—that was the first water that was delivered into the Houston area—it was delivered generally in the vicinity of the San Jacinto monument and all the industrial facilities along the Houston Ship Channel were required to shift to Lake Livingston water. In fact, the original permit on Lake Livingston restricted the water to industrial use because the quality coming down the river in the Trinity, containing Dallas and Fort Worth treated municipal wastewater was such that the agency would not allow it to be used as a municipal water supply. And so that—that lake was built and paid for by the people of the City of Houston with the intents to supply that water primarily initially to industries along the Houston Ship Channel. So they got the benefit…
DT: I wanted to ask you about the federal level of water supply issues in Texas and I understand that there was some tension between the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corp of Engineers over who had jurisdiction in the state. Could you comment on some of that?
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JM: First you have to recognize that the creation of the Corp of Engineers, they claim to be one of the oldest governmental institutions in the country, going back to the revolutionary war. But you also have to recognize that have a constitutional function in that navigation is reserved to the federal government. Navigation was important when the constitution was adopted in the 1700’s and so in peace time, the Corp of Engineers occupied itself with navigation projects. So wherever navigation is contemplated in the country, it becomes automatically a Corp of Engineers project because of the federal interest in navigation. They could add water supply but when the Bureau of Reclamation was created, you must remember the Bureau of Reclamation was created in the Department of Interior primarily to assure the settlement of the west. This was a device to spread the population across the United States because a householder could get 160 acres of irrigated land provided by the federal government so it was a federal land grant operation to assure settlement. And so you—they had an interest in—in getting people where there weren’t people and the primary limitation was regarded as water. So Bureau of Reclamation had that edge up in the west. Both the Corp of Engineers and the Bureau
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of Reclamation can build projects with water supply in them but if the Bureau of Reclamation proposes to build a project in the—anywhere in the west in their jurisdiction that includes flood control, the Corp of Engineers must design that part of the project. So flood control is a Corp of Engineers responsibility wherever it is and that is historic because after navigation then the congress added flood control and the flood control functions began in the east where the people were. And as the people moved, flood control remained a—a Corp of Engineers Department of Defense function. The—then the Department of Agriculture comes along as a part of its conservation function and starts building small reservoirs under the old Soil Conservation Service. Now the Natural Resource Conservation Service but they also manage to get authorization to add water supply up to 5000 acre feet to any Soil Conservation Service reservoir. So you had not only Soil Conservation Service as—whereas remember these are being built on private land at federal expense with no public access as a general rule. So we had the Department of Agriculture, Department of Interior and Department of Defense involved in water development in Texas and there was tension between the Bureau of Reclamation and the Corp of Engineers. I’m sure there were Corp of Engineers people who despised Harry Burley because of his connection. And—and his connection was lifetime. One of the ironies is, of course, that after—after Harry retired from the Bureau of Reclamation, he became the Executive Director of the Texas Water Development Board. So he played, in his lifetime, one role on the federal side, another role on the—on the state side. But in Lyndon Johnson’s tenure, at some point, he decided to stop the war—the water wars in Texas. And he forced, at the secretarial level, a memorandum of understanding between
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the Secretary of Interior, Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Agriculture and this was before he became president. But there was a memorandum of understanding that spelled out their respective jurisdictions in the State of Texas. This was done during my time with the Texas Water Development Board. Somewhere I had a copy of that memorandum of understanding signed by all three secretaries of those departments. And that spelled out which would have responsibility for what and that ended—now there may have been continuing battles but that ended public disputes. The—the other thing they would do is compete with the—with the local share. The interest—the local interest would go with the Bureau of Reclamation and say, how much will we have to pay if you build the dam? And the Corp of Engineers would find out about it and they’d go tell them well, we’ll give you a better deal than the Bureau of Reclamation can do. Now you understand they’re both getting their money from the same source, the American taxpayer but they’re getting them from different committees of the congress. And don’t ever forget that regardless of the position of the executive, in U.S. Congress they’re a vested interest in the maintenance of the structure that exists in the executive side. One of the major bars to a single federal construction agency for water projects has always been the committees of the congress because there’s a special committee that handles Department of Interior and a different committee that handles Corp of Engineers and neither one of those congressional groups wanted to give up its authority or autonomy to some other committee that might be created to—to oversee water from the federal level. That’s the reason we have no national water policy. You cannot get a national water policy from the executive branch of the government. The only way it can be done is with
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a mix of executive branches—executive branch representatives and congressional representatives with an agreed agenda for water. And so you had that—you had that tension in Texas but that largely, so far as I was able to tell, that largely dissipated through this—through this planning process the—the Corp of Engineers—more reservoirs in Texas are Corp of Engineers reservoirs than they are Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs. You also must appreciate that—that we have State Department Reservoirs. Most people don’t recall but the International Boundary and Water Commission which governs the boundary from Brownsville all the way across to California is a State Department Agency. And so the dams on the Rio Grande, Amistad and Falcon, are State Department Reservoirs governed by the International Boundary and Water Commission. Now they may have been on the—on the U.S. part constructed by the Corp of Engineers but they are entirely under State Department jurisdiction. If you want to do something on the Rio Grande, you have to go through the International Boundary and Water Commission in El Paso which reports to the State Department, not to the other agencies. The—the Pecos River is somewhat affected because the Pecos River flows into Amistad [Reservoir] just—just above Langtry on the—on the Rio Grande. Is that what you were interested in terms of the federal agencies? The—the—nowadays the Bureau…
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JM: You—you were interested in markets in water. The—you also must remember that, along with other governmental functions, if—if you have markets that don’t depend upon governmental agencies, what are the committees of the congress and the state legislature going to do? There is a vested interest in maintaining some function that requires governmental action. There’s a reluctance even on the part of elected legislators to turn something over if they’ve had an impact or control of it, to turn it over to somebody that’s going to run it independently of the government. The—the other problem is, what is water worth? And I always like to answer the question by saying, it depends on where you are. If you’re on top of your house floating down the river in a flood, you don’t want much more but if you’re in a drought and your crop is drying up or your industry has been restricted on water use or you can’t water the roses, water has a different value. So it depends on—on where you are. We have developed prices for water. In Texas the only water mar—serious water market that exists is in the Rio Grande Valley but this exists by virtue of litigation. The—the Rio Grande water suit which settled the allocation of the United States side, the Texas side of the Rio Grande River and that system is managed by a water master but you can only sell within your water use. Irrigators can sell to irrigators or if an irrigation district has a municipal allocation, they can sell it to a municipality but you cannot sell irrigation water to a municipality in—in the existing water market. The only place where you have significant water markets is in California and that has evolved because—partly because of their water distribution system where the California Water Project has some purchasers who don’t yet have delivery systems for the water. And so, since they’re paying—it’s always a take or pay proposition so
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they’re paying for water they can’t take because there’s not a delivery. If they can find an exchange so that they can buy water closer to them and sell their water that’s further away from them to somebody else, then they can have a water market. Or one of the things they’re doing there is the entities are buying surface water and storing it in the ground, something called aquifer storage recovery so that you store water in vacant space in the ground and then withdraw it when you have periods of need. Now the San Antonio experience, having to do with the Edwards Aquifer is a slightly different set of circumstances. The only market that San Antonio has effectively attempted is something called the Irrigation Suspension Program. And what the water utilities, water purveyors in Bexar County did two years ago was pay irrigators not to irrigate and then claim—then the purveyors could claim the water that the irrigators would otherwise have used. So, in effect, what they said of the irrigator is, it’s just like the agricultural program where you put your land in—out of production and you get paid for not growing anything. Well you pay the irrigators not to grow anything and tell them to take a trip to Europe. And—and pay them an agreed upon price and the—the—the Edwards Aquifer Authority actually took bids from the irrigators saying, what will you sell the water for and then they had a choice of prices for selling the water. Now you understand that’s a one year deal. To buy the water rights is a different question. Now they’re going to have water rights in groundwater once they get a valid permit. Then theoretically the irrigator should sell the value of the water to—to a municipal water purveyor. But the differential is substantial. You may sell an annual acre foot under the irrigation suspension program for 35 or $40 dollars an acre foot but if you buy the water rights, you may pay $700 an
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acre foot. There are water rights being bought but nobody knows for sure yet what is being bought and sold because there’s no final groundwater right yet in the jurisdiction of Edwards Aquifer because of litigation that is held up the system of—of providing final permits. They’re also exploring this aquifer storage recovery process where you go down into the Chorizo in Atascosa County where the water level has dropped because they’re mining the Chorizo Aquifer. At that point, there is space into which you could put water. The—the landowner’s objection is are you going to put treated sewage down here, are you going to put high quality water. As a general rule at this juncture, you almost have to treat the water to drinking water standards before you put it underground. Then you hope that when you take it back out—out of the ground, you’ll only have to chlorinate it before using it. Otherwise you end up with a double treatment cost which affects the economics of the—of the sale. The—the first surface water to come into San Antonio will come from a water treatment plant being built by the Bexar Metropolitan Water District which will build a plant that will produce roughly 10,000 acre feet a year, 9 million gallons a day of treated surface water out of the Medina River into southwestern San Antonio but that has been controversial too because people in San Antonio, because of the political situation, have argued that there’s a perennial candidate for mayor down there named Kay Turner that calls surface water sewage water. And so any water that—that surface water that comes in there, they oppose on the grounds that you’re going to force the people in San Antonio to drink—drink sewage water. We will eventually—we will eventually have a water market. Now the other kind of water market that we’ve had is the Garwood Irrigation District example in the Colorado where Garwood sold the
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water rights, not the quantity, on an annual basis. They actually sold the water right to Corpus Christi for roughly 35,000 acre feet. And—and Corpus Christi paid a substantial price. Something like $800 an acre foot for that water. Now they had—they pay that out over time but in addition to that, they have to build—remember they must build a conveyance facility to get the water from the Colorado to Corpus. The conveyance facility will be the one that goes to Texana so that the water in Texana will go to Corpus and then it will be replaced by water pumped from the Colorado into the Texana Reservoir. So they’re crossing at least two and maybe three boundaries between the river systems in order to get the Garwood water to—to Corpus. Now the other deal, of course, is that now the lower Colorado River Authority has bought the balance of—of the Garwood irrigation water which may approach 100,000 acre feet eventually as the—as the irrigation declines and is—some of the irrigation there is projected to decline but the—the irrigators are assured of their water supply so long as they need it but ultimately that water will be converted to municipal water supply and then LCRA has turned around and recently negotiated a deal to sell perhaps as much as half of that water to the City of Austin which is ironic because the City of Austin has the right to 300,000 acre feet out of the Colorado and they’re only using 150,000 acre feet now which they didn’t have to pay for any of that water but now they’re going to start paying for an additional quantity which may not be needed until the year 2050. But it’s all—everybody says that’s a great deal for water market. You had—you had some interest in why you’d do it in advance. The reason you do it in advance is because of the lead times that it takes. If you were to—if an entity were to decide today that they were going to build a significant reservoir,
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they must be prepared to go through a process that will consume at least 25 years before they can start construction. And so you have to know where you’re going to be if you—with that kind of lead time. And—and every year of that costs money so that you will be—the entity will be paying out money 25 years in advance of ever beginning construction. Then they’ll have to pay the construction costs and then from that water, if it’s a surface water reservoir, from that water they will have to recover their 25 years of expenditure plus the construction costs of the reservoir. So it’s the lead time that poses the problem and the lead time is dictated by the regulatory process that now governs the permits you have to have in order to build a reservoir and the potential for litigation. Any reservoir proposed today of significant size in this state, must anticipate—you have to set aside several millions of dollars for legal fees because you—any reservoir will be litigated. You cannot build one without litigation. And that—that accounts for the—that accounts for the time—one of the time frames. See—look at the position City of Dallas. You can say well they spent the money prematurely. First off, the water that they—from the reservoirs they built is the cheapest water you can find today. The water that was in Lake Palestine even though they had to build a pipeline to Palestine to get it, is the cheapest water they can buy. They cannot—there is not a cheaper alternative in the Dallas/Fort Worth area because of the relative difference in the economics in the time span that has—has passed since they built them. So there—there are a lot of people who say—and the environmentalist—Howard Saxon used to—with the Sierra Club—used to take me to task for building them prematurely and I said, look regardless of how long in advance they’re built, they’ll still be the cheapest alternative when the time comes. And
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you see an example of that is Canyon Reservoir in the Guadalupe River. Canyon Reservoir water today is selling for $55 an acre foot in the lake so that you’ve got to build conveyance facilities—if you’re going to take it out in the river downstream why you got to—you got to pay transportation costs in addition to that. San Antonio had a chance to buy 50,000 acre feet at $35 an acre foot in 1976. So it—it’s the—what you have to judge is the relative economics between the costs that were incurred at the time and the costs later. The City of Sherman wanted water out of Lake Texoma and Dennison bought water out of Texoma let’s say at .35 a thousand gallons and then Sherman says, well we want to buy it. You understand they—they bought theirs in 1943, Dennison did. Sherman’s trying to buy in 1983. So there’s 40 years difference in there. For that same .35 water, Sherman may have to pay $2.70 because you don’t sell it on what the original cost was, you sell it on what’s called the utility cost and the utility cost is, what would it cost you today if you built a reservoir and impounded that—that quantity of water. I—I frankly see no objection to building the reservoirs than—and a confession I have made is that I—we had the authority when I was Executive Director of the Water Development Board under the 1965 amendment to actually go out and construct reservoirs. I had a dispute with the Corp of Engineers out of New Orleans and I threatened at one point that the State of Texas would buy it—would build the Cooper Reservoir because that’s a federal—that was built with the Corp of Engineers. And—and I’ve regretted that we didn’t dam the Sulfur all the way to the Louisiana border. We could have done it in the ‘60’s. You could—can’t do it today and we’d have—we’d have reservoirs that could yield a million and a half acre feet that—to build them today—to build that string of
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reservoirs would cost 50—would take 50 to 75 or 100 years. We could have built them in the ‘50’s. Now the reason we could have built them—you’ve got a—you’ve interested—you’ve expressed some interest in a funding question. The way the Texas Water Development Fund is established the interest and sinking fund requirements for the State Bonds that are issued to put the money in the fund that’s then borrowed are—the—that fund is supposed to make those payments out of income. If the income is in—inadequate, it falls through as a constitutional designated demand on the general revenue fund before the revenue estimates are pre—produced for the legislature. And so there were some years in which the general revenue fund had to make up the difference between the income to the Water Development Fund and the interest in sinking fund requirements for the bonds. See that’s the way I would have funded fresh water inflows to bays and estuaries. I said we will build state owned storage out of which the fresh water inflows will be met and since all the people of Texas benefit from fresh water inflows to bays and estuaries because of the economics on the Texas Gulf Coast, then that charge will fall through on general revenue fund and all the people of Texas will pay for what is a benefit to all the people of Texas. You could still do that today except that the legislature has since imposed legislator restrictions that—that say, before the Water Development Board faces that prospect, they must advise the legislature that it’s going to be a demand on general revenue fund or they have committed—the Water Development Board has committed that they will not make expenditures that will fall through as a demand on the—on general revenue fund. But that constitutional provision’s still there.
DT: Did you vote that idea back in the ‘60’s?
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JM: No, not specifically. All—our problem was trying to get fresh water inflows accepted. You cannot imagine the reaction you get from an audience in Lubbock when you tell them that instead of pumping the water to Lubbock, you’re going to let it flow into the Gulf of Mexico. We—we had a consultant, a major engineering consulting firm on—was meeting with an advisory group one time and we were talking about fresh water inflows and he finally realized what we were doing. He was sitting in a captain’s chair rared back on a—it was a wooden floor and—and he suddenly realized we were talking about assuring fresh water inflows and he let that chair crash to the floor and he said, you mean you’re going to give the water to fish before you give it to people. They didn’t understand the economics of fresh water inflows. There was a 1957 conference on this campus, I have a record of the meeting, in which waste was described as a bucket of water that escaped into the Gulf of Mexico. The objective, at that point, was to dam every river in Texas so that there was not a drop of water that went out of a Texas river in to the Gulf of Mexico. So that you—the Trinity would stop flowing before it got to Galveston Bay. Every river in Texas would—would be so controlled that no water would “be wasted into the Gulf of Mexico”. That’s how little understanding there was of the significance of fresh water inflow. You must understand, until you need to know, what’s the pressure to learn. And so we didn’t know about the contribution of—of bays and estuaries. We didn’t know how much water it takes. We didn’t know when the water has to be there. And—and—and one of the complications about fresh water inflow also is
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sometimes there’s too much. When the Hurricane Beulah came across the Rio Grande Valley and went up through the Nueces River basin and the Nueces River flooded, it washed out all the gauges on the—on the Nueces. You couldn’t know how—you didn’t know what the flow was but when it hit the bay, there were massive fish kills, freshwater fish kills. The—the—the fish could not get out of the way of the fresh water fast enough and so they were killed because the bay became too fresh. All the—all the shellfish were wiped out because too much fresh water came into the bay. You can have—the consequence on—on bays and estuaries can go both ways and the issue is, ultimately will we so manage the water resource that we, in effect, are managing the bays and estuaries so that—that in—it is as though you turn them into fish nurseries and managed them just like you would manage growing plants on land or animals on land. You managed the—the bays and estuaries for the species that are there. And they’re already growing shrimp, you know. That’s been controversial too on the Gulf Coast where you have shrimp farms growing shrimp.
DT: Do you think we have the knowledge to manage a resource like that?
JM: More and more. But you—but you—what you must remember is that we’re…
DT: I’m just very interested in the whole idea of intended and unintended…
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JM: Enormous unintended consequences of all kinds of things we do. Enormous unintended consequences. Well, do we have the knowledge to manage? You must remember that of all the resources that you can name, we’re not going to be able to do without air and water. So as a—as the population continues to expand and you—and you—your water resource is limited, at some point in time, you got to do one of two things. You either got to manage the weather or you’ve got to manage the water after it gets on the land. And so necessity will force management. That’s what forces management today. I mean, the reason we have—the reason there’s an issue is because of the prospect of shortage and so it’s shortage that drives you, plus excess. The occasional periods of excess. But shortage will drive you—it’ll drive you to acquire knowledge. And so the interests that are involved in the fisheries off the—the commercial and sports fishers off the Gulf Coast will propel us into learning what we need to do to—to manage the—the estuaries. Look at what we do with plants. If we don’t like the plant we have, we grow one that suits us. If we don’t like the animal we have, we grow one that suits us. If we could grow an animal that was all beef steak, we’d grow it. If we could grow one that was all ham, we—or bacon, we’d grow one like that. Look at what we’ve done to turkeys. We—we—we design them for maximum human use and—and necessity will drive us—drive us to it in—in the water arena. It may take longer rather than shorter. But ultimately you have to confront the question, what are you willing to do without? We’ll also change uses and we’ll change patterns. For example,
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it’s ridiculous to grow sugar beets on the High Plains because sugar beets require water—more water than—we ought to grow sugar beets some place else. Why should you grow a—a water—a water—a plant that uses excess water in an arid area. You should not do that. You should—we should make more judicious decisions about where we grow the things we need. And ultimately we’ll have to do that I think.
DT: I’d like to talk about groundwater and your role in Sierra vs. Babbit cases on San Antonio’s use of groundwater.
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JM: Well, with regard to the San Antonio water situation, you need to be aware that in the ‘60’s, in the first water plan and even before that in San Antonio, there were already recommendations that San Antonio develop alternative sources of supply. It was not an—it is not an issue that arose recently. It’s been there at least 50 years. And there was litigation between San Antonio and the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority about who would control Canyon Dam. It generated so much animosity that there are still residuals today of litigation that went on 25, 30 years ago. And while San Antonio won the right to get water out of—out of Canyon, when the battle was over, nobody over here would deal with them to—to negotiate the water. And San Antonio wouldn’t negotiate with them either because they’d all gotten made at each one—at each other in the process. I can remember when two personalities that significantly affected the issue, one named Porky Van Kamp(?) with the Blanco River Authority and the other one with the—what was then called the—the San Antonio Water Board. You couldn’t put these two people in the same room together. They wouldn’t even speak. They would not even greet one another and—and those were the two principals that would have had to have negotiated a—a transfer of water. So you—you had a long history of animosity between these two. But what really precipitated the battle is not necessarily the endangered species. What precipitated the battle is the prospect that pumping in San Antonio and to the west would gradually reduce the flow in the—in the springs—I mean, in the aquifer and therefore reduce the spring flow at Comal and San Marcos Springs. The pattern was already set. There used to be springs in San Antonio that flowed. They haven’t flowed for years except in very wet years because San Antonio pumps too much water. In other words, they dried up the springs in their own city. The downstream interests on the Guadalupe could see that with low rainfall years or drought, once the withdrawals from the Edwards exceed the average every year, it is inevitable that the spring flow in the—from these two sets of springs will decrease and endanger all the economic development on the Guadalupe River that depends on Guadalupe River water including Union Carbide and the other industry that’s down at the—down below Victoria. So the Endangered Species Act became the vehicle with the assistance of the Sierra Club to force limitations on the withdrawals of water from the Edwards aquifer. This is couched as a—and San Antonio wanted to couch it that way—as a bugs versus people or animals versus people or critters versus people battle. It’s a people versus people battle. It’s who’s going to control the livelihood which is represented in the water in the Guadalupe River. And so they—the forces converged after enormous efforts to compromise. There were—there were ten or fifteen years of efforts to compromise before they ever went to court and also there was
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forum shopping and where the suit was filed. The suit would—would never have been filed in a San Antonio federal court. They deliberately picked the—the Midland court. And—and since this is the western district of Texas, they could pick which court they filed it in. And I understand that—that Stuart Henry told the San Antonio people that he was going to file the case in Judge Bunton’s court and Judge Bunton is a—is—is a Democrat appointed Federal District Judge and therefore regarded as more liberal than other judges and that forum was deliberately picked to file this case. The—to—to do everything possible to influence the outcome. Now the—the—the case started off with some fits and starts but it was primarily a move to regulate the Edwards under the Endangered Species Act to protect the interest of downstream water flow on the Guadalupe. You—you couldn’t look at the case and say it’s purely an environmental—set of environmental litigation. Now one of the consequences of the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority being a lead plaintiff in the case is that they were instructed by the legislature that they had to fire the General Manager who was there when the litigation was initiated. And they wrote into the statute that the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority would be subjected to Sunset review out of order to make certain that the GBRA Board was responsive to the legislative attitude. Now are you particularly interested in how I got involved?
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JM: I’m working in Washington, D.C. as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management in the U.S. Treasury Department and I got a telephone call from Stuart
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Henry saying, we got another one of these cases down here. Would you like to be involved? And with a lot of pushing and hauling for a while I said, I—I might be but I said there—there are two conditions before I become involved. Number one, I will not get involved without meeting with the judge. I said, I have to be sure that the judge and I are compatible. That’s—that’s absolutely critical for me. And the—the other one is, I will have to have a clear specification of duties. So this went on back and forth. The judge called me and we talked on the telephone. And I arranged to go to Midland to see him. I went to Midland to see him. The rapport was almost instantaneous and it turns out he was Governor Connally’s campaign manager when—when Connally ran for governor the first time. So we—we started off with a—with some background. But then I actually helped draft the order that specified what my duties would be. I did that because of my experience in Detroit with that litigation and in Dallas with that litigation. So I agreed to do this but before the order came out, the—the way these things normally work is the—the lawyers to the—for the parties are asked to suggest names to the judge and so there were other names suggested than mine. But before I started, I got a telephone call from the lawyer representing the City of San Antonio named Jim Matthews. Jim had been on the Attorney General’s office staff when I did the lead case in Dallas. He said, we need to talk about this—about this prospect of you becoming monitor was the title they were using. And I said, well do you want to talk now? He said, no, no, no, no, I want to talk in Austin. I want you to come to Austin. I said, well, I’m not coming back to Texas. I gave him a date some time in the future. My wife was still in Richardson. And he said, I want you to come to Austin. We will pay your way down here. So I flew to Austin for a
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day from Washington, D.C. and went in expecting to meet with Jim Matthews. Instead, we were in a conference room with 9 or 10 other people. In the introductions, I recognized that two of the other people in the room were on the list of potential monitors in the Edwards litigation in Midland. In due course, the President of SAWS [San Antonio Water System] and the lawyer for SAWS arrived. And I was handed a briefing book, a notebook that contained a lot of papers that dealt with the case. And the whole day was spent telling me why I should not become the monitor in the case. And some of it was absolutely brutal. I mean, in both directions. Absolutely brutal. I—I—our son lived in Austin and still does but I had had him pick me up at the airport. In fact, I probably came in the night before and spent the night with him but then he was to pick me up and take me back to the airport because I was flying back to Washington that night. And at—at the end of this day and I had no idea that this is what this was going to be but the end of this day when I went out to get in the car he said, well how did it go? And I said, well I’ll tell you. I said, well I’ll tell you. I said, if I get a chance to be monitor in this case, I’m going to take it as soon as it’s offered because all the arguments—what—Jim had dealt with me in the lead case and one of the things that I do in these cases—and this is the reason I wanted to see the judge—in the—in the lead case in Dallas, I was actually approached first by the Attorney General’s office. So they were the ones that—that interviewed me first but they had other lawyers there representing the other parties. And as that evolved, I had regular meetings with lawyers and when we met, there might be 8 or 10 lawyers representing parties that were there. As we—as we proceeded why they—they began to take the position that they were going to tell me what to do and so we had one of these
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meetings and I had my staff in there at that—in that operation, I had 10 or 12 people working for me and we had a staff in there and they started telling me—and finally, I listened to it for a while and Matthews was there. And listened to it for a while and finally I said, I don’t think you understand the role I play. And, by the way, in that case, that judge had never had a person operate like this. But—but finally I said, you don’t understand what my responsibility is. I said, I don’t report to you. I report to Judge Het, he’s now on the State Supreme Court, I said, and so it—this is not a session where you’re going to prescribe to me what I do. I said, if you think I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do on the court order, your forum is to go talk to the judge. But I said, this is not—I’m not here asking you for your approval. I’m here telling you what it is I’m going to do. We didn’t have many more of those meetings after that. And—and at some point, the lawyers on both sides decided that I was doing what I was supposed to do which is be responsive to the judge and not responsive to either one of the parties. There’s always a difficulty when—when you’re doing this because you got to remember you’re walking into a contentious situation where you’ve got the contending forces are still operating. So that’s the reason I—I—I could tell he—they weren’t going to run that show. If I got it, they weren’t going to run that show. I don’t—I’ve never told Jim Matthews this—I’ve never told him what my—what my reaction was but that was the wrong thing to do so far as I’m concerned. Now what—what I did then and what I always do with this, I did it in Detroit with the mayor because I was primarily responsible to the mayor—the mayor of Detroit although the judge was omnipresent and—and manipulating all the time. But, in Dallas, the way I describe it is there was—there’s no space between me and the judge.
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That space is already occupied. I close that space up. If somebody’s—the—the head of the Dallas Water Utilities at one point, decided he—made the—made the statement in working with the city lawyer, said well if we could just get to the judge without Moore there, why we could persuade him that what we’re—what we’re proposing is all right. And when I heard about that, I told the lawyer for the city, you go back and tell Tom Taylor that there is no space between me and the judge. You’re not going to get between me and the judge. I said, you should not assume that I do—you should assume that anything I do, I’ve already cleared with the judge because I will not do something that I think is contrary to what he would have me do. And if it’s important enough in my view, I would have cleared it with him beforehand. And so, when I started working with Judge Bunton, that’s just exactly the way it went. I had enormous latitude working with Judge Bunton but the reason I had enormous latitude working with Judge Bunton is because on the—on the critical things, I always had them cleared in advance. Now the—the—the reason this is important, you—you cannot work one of these operations if there’s irri—any irritation between you and what I call your principal. And so I never had a problem in the—in the Sierra Club case involving the Edwards Aquifer. The other thing is, and when—and when I first met Judge Bunton I said, have you ever had one of these work like this before? He said no. I said, well we’re—we’re both going to have an experience then that you hadn’t had before. The—and—and what I started out doing was not necessarily giving instructions. You start out learning. And when you’re brand new, everybody wants to educate you. And what they’re doing is they’re educating you to their particular perspective. And so one of the first things I got was an invitation to go down
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to Medina, Uvalde Counties and travel around on a Greyhound bus with a whole crew of people who were being briefed on a critical need for irrigation water in Medina Uvalde Counties. And so I went and so on this bus are—are the principal irrigators that are fighting this lawsuit on that side. We had a great day. Out all over the place looking at—at the stuff that was going on down there. But everybody wants to educate you. I spent enormous time in either one on one or small groups or big groups. I rarely refused an invitation to come talk to somebody or come talk to some groups. Some groups you absolutely refused to after a while because they’re just like a broken record. They’ve locked onto something that—and there’s a pair of these in San Antonio—they’ve locked onto something and nothing else is going to deter them. It’s a—their—their single minded purpose is to prevail with their attitude.
DT: Can you give an example of that?
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JM: The two people are Carol and Kirk Patterson. Carol Patterson is—is regarded by a segment of the population of San Antonio as an expert on the Edwards aquifer and she is expert on one thing and that is, San Antonio should pump it dry. And her husband is a lawyer and she was on the old Edwards underground Water District Board and now is on the Edwards Aquifer Authority Board. She is an opponent of the statute that created the Edwards Aquifer Authority Board and she serves on the board that created the statute. I told the group in San Antonio in a private meeting that one of the greatest risks they
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faced was that the opponents to the Edwards Aquifer Authority would, in effect, co-opt the board. They would eventually elect enough people to where they would run the board. And—and it is—as a—as a practical matter, if you want to know what the—what the position of the City of San Antonio is on a water issue, the chances are that Carol Patterson is the one that has influenced the issue. She influences the—her own opponents. Whenever they are formulating—I—I told this to the lawyer for SAWS one time, I said, how does it feel working for Carol Patterson? He says, what do you mean? I said, she determines everything you do. I said, she determines what you do because whenever you’re thinking about doing something, you’re always thinking, how’s Carol Patterson going to take this or what’s Kirk Patterson and Carol—what are Kirk and Carol going to do—or what’s Kay Turner going to do about this. And Kay Turner and Carol Patterson and Kirk Patterson are all aligned together and they have an entourage that follows them wherever they go and so, anybody in San Antonio that is formulating a water—water policy is formulating it within the context of how you—how will this play with Kirk and Carol Patterson and potentially Kay Turner because she’s going to run for mayor next time against whomever’s in there. This is the way you can—you can negatively influence policy. Now she’s on the Edwards Aquifer Authority Board and so now she has a board made up of 15 members and the—the board members I know spend an inordinate amount of their time thinking, how do we get around Carol Patterson? How’s this—how’s Carol going to react to this? And—and so in effect, she influences the way they go simply because she’s there. And if they can get enough members on that board that think like she does, they’ll abs—the board will continue to exist but they’ll
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absolutely frustrate the implementation of the statute. And you can do this. You can co-opt a board by getting enough members who oppose the philosophy under their authorizing statute and they can absolutely ruin the—and contradict the intent of the legislature. And that’s been reflected. Senator Armbrister who was the major senate sponsor of the bill that created the Edwards Aquifer Authority was absolutely infuriated with them before this last session of the legislature. Absol—they—they did—they repeatedly did things that were absolutely infuriating to him and, in some cases, did it knowingly and deliberately. And—and so what—what you end up doing is you create—then you create opponents sitting in the legislature of the thing they’ve created. And so, Carol Patterson’s, in effect, gotten the board in a situation where the sponsors of the legislation that create the board are opposed to the way that agencies function.
DT: What do you think the outcome of the litigation of the Edwards Aquifer will be?
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JM: If…
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JM: If—if the people in San Antonio do not, at some point, decide they’re going to recapture their share—see what you have is seven members from Bexar County, two
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members from Comal, two members from Hayes, two members from Medina, two members from Uvalde. That’s eight outside Bexar. So you could think that the Bexar County delegation, if it were united in seven, could get at least one of the other eight to go with them and therefore, dominate the board. But that isn’t the way it works. The seven in San Antonio are generally split 4 to 3. So the—the board members on either side have recognized the split and so they allow themselves with the three, depending upon what the issue is, and so the board’s actually being run by the minority of three in Bexar County and they’re liaisons with some in the outside—in the outside counties. You understand what I’m talking about? Now the outcome, unless the people in San Antonio decide they’re going to get a San Antonio delegation, a Bexar County delegation, that is consistent with what their view ought to be, ultimately you have—you’re faced with one of two things. The legislature will shift the regulation of the Edwards to the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission or they’ll abolish the agency, in which case, you start all over again. They’ll—they’ll try to abolish it and—and replace it with something else. It’s a classic kind of example of a rear guard action that is trying to—trying to eliminate the inevitable. See time will solve part of the problem. They can’t last forever and so time will—will solve part of the problem. A drought would help because if you’ve got a drought, I watch the—I watch the spring flow figures almost daily—almost weekly if not daily to see whether or not we’re approaching a drought that’s going to precipitate a—a complication in the—in the—in the area. Now I’ve skipped—I’ve jumped ahead of the—the litigation part of it. What—what then happened is, I initially started out just as a sort of data gatherer. We—I was supposed to feed information to the judge. Well, of course, everybody wanted to tell me everything because they saw me as a conduit. Well if I can just get him to tell the judge then—then you create what’s–what’s called a—an ex parte communication channel so that you pass information to the court that you couldn’t do officially without telling all of the other parties. That’s one of the first questions I settled. I asked the judge, I said, do I have to tell all the parties every time I go see one of the others. No you don’t have to do that. So in it—nothing I did was an ex parte communication. I didn’t have to tell anybody what I was doing except the judge. And then the judge—I gave the judge a report and it was up to his discretion as to whether he mailed it to the parties. And I gave him regular reports about what I was doing. The—then drought occurred. So in 1994, we had the first precursor of crisis and I was instructed to produce in thirty days a drought management plan for the Edwards. And I did that and when it came out, Mayor Wolf, headlines in the—in the San Antonio Express News was, “Moore declares scorched earth policy on Edwards” and—and that’s the way they regarded it because you—once you’re into a drought, you have to take draconian measures in that case—in this case for the Edwards—you have to take draconian measures to do anything. You got to—it—it—you have to do something that’s going to produce an almost instantaneous result. You can’t wait for time because the spring flow’s going down. And it can go down 10 cubic feet a day. And so if you’re at 300 cubic feet, 200 cubic feet is the critical point and then below that, 150 is the next critical point.
DT: Flow at which spring?
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JM: Flow at Comal. Comal is generally the indicator spring. If you protected Comal, you generally have protected San Marcos. And you must remember San Marcos is below Comal so it’ll stop flowing there before it’ll stop flowing here plus there is—this one remember has never gone dry in recorded history. And so there is a source of flow that may bypass some of the channels that provide flow at Comal. But Comal is the one we generally use as the—as the trigger mechanism. Well, it rained and it—and the irrigation season in Comal—in Medina, Uvalde Counties ended so we got through ’94. In ’95, I told the judge as early as March, I said we’re headed for trouble again. So we developed another drought management plan and then in—then he appointed the lawyer’s panel to do a drought management plan and he adopted that one on a stand-by basis because it was done by the lawyers and the—and the—and the litigation. What I did was I—I told the judge I said, your honor, what you ought to do is—I said and I—I wrote this out to him—to him on a sheet of paper with nothing on it so that he could use it and throw it away, I said, what you ought to do is appoint the lawyers and I actually suggested the names of the people he should appoint and let them come up with a drought management plan for you. So when we got in court, instead of doing it as though it had been his idea, he says, now the monitor has suggested and off he went and he appointed the lawyer’s panel and so the lawyers came around to me and said, what in the world are you doing? I said, look, you all have responsibility to this court. Give him a solution to what you ought to do. Well they—he adopted the lawyer’s panel on a stand-by basis but we didn’t have to do anything in ’95. ’96, it really got critical. In the interim, San Antonio had been trying to build a reservoir called Applewhite below San Antonio on the Medina
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River. The program to promote the reservoir was an absolute disaster. They gave all the wrong reasons for why you build it and made all kinds of prom—promises they could never have—have lived up to in the—in the promotion of it. For example, that it would be a constant level reservoir. You can’t build a constant level reservoir for water supply. When it gets dry, you’re going to pump water out of it and when you pump water out the level goes down. It got—it got tagged by Kay Turner and Carol and Kirk Patterson as a sewage reservoir. They were going to collect sewage there from the treated San Antonio wastewater and pump it back to the low income Hispanic residents in Southwest San Antonio so the—the poor people in San Antonio were—were going to get sewage water and the people in the north and northwest—the rich people were going to get pure Edwards water while all the other people were going to be forced to drink this sewage water. So they twice killed the reservoir. And—and they had been telling me—this was during the drought of ‘94—they’d been telling me, as soon as we get this reservoir, vote behind us where we can go ahead and build this reservoir, going to solve the problem. The election failed. So I got my first contact from the San Antonio Water System. The Chairman of the Board and the President called and said, we’d like to come to Dallas and meet with you about this vote. So the following week they were there. Came in on Tuesday, Wednesdays. So they came in and they gave me all the reasons why this vote failed. And when they got through with that, I said, now what are you going to do? They had no fallback plan. I could—I could not believe that they were so sure that this vote was going to pass that nobody had ever played the “what if” game. What if it fails? Well I had suspected that’s what had happened and so in the week before the appointment—
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and the time between the appointment was fixed and the time they got there—I had put together with a young man I had working with me, a proposal and cleared it with the judge that we establish a section 10(a) Habitat Conservation Plan Committee and start drafting a Habitat Conservation Plan under the Endangered Species Act. And had the names of all the agencies that would be represented and so on. And I had that with me when we were—when I was meeting with these two other people and so when we got to that point, I said, well let me make a suggestion to you. And I pulled these things out and the first condition was, that if I proposed this and the judge did it with an order, that the City of San Antonio would not appeal. And I said, I want your mayor to call me and tell me that you will not appeal an order that sets up this group. And then I had the sequence by which I would contact the agencies to get them to participate. And these were primarily water agencies beginning in Uvalde County, Medina County, Bexar County. I had to go to the—to the City Managers or the water utility person in—in Comal County and the City Manager in—in Hayes County here in San Marcos. So the mayor called and he first wanted to apologize about the newspaper stories. And I said, Mr. Mayor, I understand exactly what you’re doing. It doesn’t bother me at all. That’s fine. I—don’t let that worry you. But he says, we will not appeal. So then I started my meetings with these water en—in—entities. I started in Uvalde County, Dolph Briscoe, and governor Briscoe and I go back far enough to where my father and he were seat mates in the Texas Legislature. They were in—well, I take it back—he came to the legislature the year after my father was defeated. That’s what it was. But my father had written something—a—a piece of legislation that became the farmed market road program. Became the Colson Briscoe Farmed Market Road Program. Had my father been reelected, that would have been the Colson Moore Farmed Market Road Program. And I told Governor Briscoe at one time, I said, you know, my father’s the one who really wrote the law the created the Farmed Market Road Program and I said, had he been reelected, his name would have been on that bill instead of yours. Briscoe’s political reputation was based on Colson Farm to Market Road Program and—but at any rate, so he and I had some prior contact but he brought in a man named Rodney Reagan who was a—an alter ego of his and he and—he and—and the governor were in business together. But that meeting, I got their—they were kind of non-committal but they might. So I went on to the Uvalde District and there they had a woman General Manager so I got—I got enough encouragement to proceed. Went to the Edwards Underground Water District which included Bexar County, Comal and Hayes because Medina and Uvalde had seceded from that district in a dispute over a drought management plan some years before. So I got a general approval from them and then, lo and behold, I get back to Dallas and I get a telephone call and they want me to come back and meet again in Medina County. And I said, what for? So I went down to another one of these meetings that was started out unfriendly and—and we eventually got the approval of the Edwards Underground Water District to participate. Then I got—then I got New Braunfels and—and San Marcos. And so we started this draft Habitat Conservation Plan. We ended up producing a 330-page document that listed all the potential water supply alternatives for the region. And gave estimated costs for every…
End of reel 2018
End of interview with Joe Moore, Jr.