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TCEQ ignores stakeholders suggestions

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

It's certainly not the first time the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality went its own way. Some years ago, the commission changed its name primarily, we suspect, because its acronym at the time led folks to refer to the often non-responsive state agency as "Train Wreck."

On Thursday, April 12, the TCEQ told a couple of its stakeholder groups that it was not going to follow their recommendations regarding how much water needs to be retained in the San Antonio, Guadalupe and Colorado river basins to keep them and the coastal bays they feed into healthy.

A committee representing the San Antonio and Guadalupe rivers invited TCEQ to a meeting in Seguin to explain how it had arrived at its new rules relating to those two river basins.

According to a story in the April 12 Express News by Colin McDonald, "for Suzanne Scott, the general manager of the San Antonio River Authority and chair of that committee, one of the biggest concerns was that the proposed rules were allowing more water to be taken from the Guadalupe River than from the San Antonio."

A representative of the National Wildlife Federation urged a "strengthening of the rules to safeguard fish and wildlife populations - and the jobs that depend on them," the article stated.

Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District General Manager Dave Mauk reported that the meeting "was very contentious.

Everyone was professional about it, but opinions were strongly stated."
Since becoming the BCRAGD's manager, Mauk has made a point of attending these regional river authority meetings to strengthen the local district's river authority arm. "They are talking about our river basin, but we have traditionally not been involved in these planning meetings," said Mauk. "I am making a point to be at these meetings so that we will not be overlooked."

Mauk said the river authorities downstream from Bandera County "are making decisions that affect us.

We've got to be there or they won't recognize us [in the future]."

Mauk has also been attending meetings in Austin. "If you're not active at the state level, you lose control of your resources."

The Medina River is a principal tributary of the San Antonio River, which flows into the Guadalupe River just above San Antonio Bay at Seadrift just south of Port Lavaca.

According to the Express News story, "the biggest example of the rules proposed by the TCEQ differing from those of the stakeholder groups was in the amount of water allowed to reach San Antonio Bay.

"The San Antonio-Guadalupe stakeholders recommended that the total flow from July to September be allowed to fall below 50,000 acre-feet only 18 times every 100 years.
"The TCEQ proposed those flows could occur 28 times."

The rules changes were published by TCEQ in the Texas Register and the commission will accept comments for a short time.

To see or make a comment on the proposed rules visit www.sos.state.tx.us/texreg and go to pages 2522-2539.

Pictured: The Medina River flows into the San Antonio River and then joins the Guadalupe River. Decisions made by TCEQ and downstream river authorities may have a profound effect on this local resource.