Opposition mounts against proposed Texas water sales

9:32 PM, Jan. 5, 2012  -- STAFF REPORTS – SHREVEPORT TIMES

 http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/201201052132/NEWS01/120105022

TOLEDO BEND – In excess of 500 people already have submitted comments to the Sabine River Authority of Louisiana concerning a proposed contract to sell water from Toledo Bend Reservoir to Texas.

Perhaps only a dozen lean toward support should the contract get some tweaking. But the rest are adamantly opposed.

Even the Caddo Parish Commission has joined in the discussion with a resolution Thursday also opposing water sales across the state line.

But for those still wanting a voice in the decision, Friday is the deadline. Comments must be submitted in person, by email or postmarked with today’s date through the postal service.

At issue is the proposal from TB Partners seeking a commitment of 600,000 acre-feet of water annually for its Texas customers. It will pay a $4 million up-front payment by July 1, plus an escalating reservation fee for the first 10 years that could generate more than $40 million.

The investors agree to pay 28 cents per 1,000 gallons, an increase over the current rate or 15 cents per 1,000 gallons, that could result in annual income of $54 million, in addition to millions more in compensation tied to overall performance of the project.

The 99-year length of the contract is among the many worries some have about the plan, in addition to future impact to Louisiana should drought conditions in the area continue.

The Caddo Commission’s resolution urges the SRA to delay any commitment to sell water until completion of a regional utility master plan. “In the next 10 years, water is going to be gold,” Commissioner David Cox said today. “If you’ve got it, you better keep it.”

SRA Chairman Robert Conyer was on hand to explain the SRA’s plans. Several commissioners questioned the direct impact selling the water would have on Caddo Parish, which Conyer couldn’t answer.

“That hacks me off when you don’t have to come to the citizens and ask them to vote and approve it,” Commissioner Joyce Bowman said. “It’s not right to have a board to decide something like that. I think that’s something that should go before the citizens.”

It’s uncertain what influence, if any, the mounting opposition will have on TB Partners’ plans, or if any further delay by the SRA on a contract vote will cause the investors to pull out or play the waiting game. A call to one of the investors, Donald T. “Boysie” Bollinger, was not immediately returned today.

Check tomorrow's newspaper and this site for more information.