WATER SALES/TOLEDO CITIZENS MEETING:
Tuesday, December 20, a standing-room-only meeting hosted by Toledo Bend Citizens Advisory Committee was held at Toledo Town which is what most call the mid-lake area. I attended the meeting and would estimate there were 200 or more in attendance. The sole purpose of the meeting was to inform lake area citizens of the details of the proposed Sabine River Authority water sales contract to a broker group called Toledo Bend Partners. I estimate that 95% of those at the meeting had strong opposition to at least part of the contract and the areas where there is the most opposition basically is in the ‘meat’ of the document. To start with, why sell our water to a broker (middle-man) to re-sale for huge profit to furnish water to another state. There are numerous lakes/rivers in southeast Texas with large volumes of water to supply Texas.
Texas has a plan that prohibits water taken from one area of the state to be piped/pumped to another. We in Louisiana need the same type provision or some policy in place that covers surface water use. What do you think the reaction would be from our Texas neighbors if a contract was submitted to sell 600 thousand acre feet of water each year for the rest of this century from Sam Rayburn or Lake Conroe to be pumped to Shreveport? You can bet the response would be vocal and overwhelmingly negative. In addition to the serious concerns of the contract being 99 yrs, there is the weak (almost non existing) drought contingency plan where water removal would be curtailed in times of serious drought such as the past 18 months. The contract as written only calls for a 10% and 20% decrease in water removal meaning that 80-90% of water would be taken/delivered no matter the condition or level of the lake.
Other concerns include the lack of clear language about the policy of when and how much can be generated(for hydro electric) after the water contract has been signed. Of course there would need to be emergency plans to remove water from the lake in times of flooding conditions, however, we are talking about day to day operations. The economics of water sales versus hydro electric power makes sense but water sales of this magnitude and for this extremely long period of time should be looked at with great scrutiny and consideration to make sure the long term lake’s economic and public use factors are given top priority. Personally, I have great reservations that this contract accomplishes that. Water is a precious, abundant resource that the state of Louisiana currently possesses and we must make wise decisions as to how we use it for future industrial and economic growth. The demand for water is rapidly increasing and its market value will continue to rise making this subject even more significant.
If you have opinions you would like to address to SRA Louisiana you can mail it to them or e-mail it to them. There is a meeting of SRA officers and board members January 12, 2012 where they will look at all of the public’s comments regarding this subject. If you want your voice heard, make sure you get your opinions to them by Jan 6. There is an effort to get them to move the meeting to a later date because of the holidays but to date I have not heard that it has been moved. A comment form is on their website at www.srala-toledo.com. Governor Jindal, who many of us supported, does have to sign this to make it law so we do have some political voice if we disagree with current contract. A ph number direct to the governor’s office is 225-342-7015. LA SRA is 1-800-259-5253