Toledo Bend water deal warrants input
11:03 PM, Dec. 28, 2011
Area citizens with an opinion about the sale of Toledo Bend water to Texas — possibly for the next 99 years — would do well to heed the Jan. 6 deadline for comments.
That's the date that the Sabine River Authority, the reservoir's governing body, has set for the receipt of public comments prior to its Jan. 26 meeting. The SRA should be commended for extending the comment period and postponing a scheduled vote in order to allow further public input on the issue. Those who wish to add their thoughts have had ample opportunity in the past as well as notice of the additional comment time. This is fortunate, since there are questions that deserve more public discourse here.
In addition to the written comments due Jan. 6, SRA will hold a special meeting on Jan. 12, during which it will listen to and address concerns.
Perhaps the highest of those concerns will be the length of the proposed contract with TB Partners. It would commit water "that belongs to the people of Louisiana for at least 99 years," said John Toliver, secretary/treasurer of the Toledo Bend Citizens Advisory Committee. "And if we need it later, it won't be available. It allows them to pump water regardless of what the level is. " On a major contract like this, the public needs to know more about it."
The Advisory Committee, fairly quiet in recent years since winning the minimum-lake-level battle, has rightly become more active since the proposed contract with TB Partners was initially accepted by the SRA in August. Advisory Committee members say they are not opposed to water sales but want more discussion of the current proposal. SRA wishes more people had attended its earlier discussions, but it is accommodating current citizen wishes and expressing a desire to calm residents' fears.
In this time of drought just passing and despite historical data that indicates more water will likely be available, it is wise to consider and reconsider actions that will have an effect on those not yet born. An abundance of caution is urged in this matter.
The final decision is up to Gov. Bobby Jindal but the initial recommendation will come from the SRA.
We're pleased that civic discourse in a civil manner appears to be at work on the shores of Toledo Bend Reservoir. These small groups of people — and those in adjacent areas who may have future water needs — have the opportunity to get it right for the benefit of current and future generations.