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Pipeline from the Border would bring Water to Permian Basin Towns

The Rio Grande near Lajitas, TX. Some worry a plan to pipe water from near Del Rio to the Permian Basin could harm the river. (TranceMist via Flickr)

There's a proposal on the table in Texas to pipe water from the borderlands region of Val Verde County - home to Del Rio - to 13 rural counties in the Permian Basin.

Despite the recent rains we've seen, the drought's still a long-term problem for some parts of the Basin, and the Val Verde Water Company says it can help.

Reporter Alana Rocha joined us to talk about her story on the plan for the Texas Tribune. She spoke with the company, environmentalists opposed to the plan, and some city officials who have rejected similar proposals from V.V. Water in the past.

The company wants to build a pipeline from parts of the Edwards-Trinity Aquifer near the border to bring water to small towns like Mentone, Kermit, Monahans and Crane, among others - and they're hoping oil and gas companies will buy in to spread out the building costs.

[iframe src="http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/groundwater/gmaps/plateau_gmap.html" width="480" height="480" iframe]
A map of the Edwards-Trinity Aquifer (Texas Water Development Board)

From the Tribune:

Joe Carter, managing director of the V.V. Water Company in Beeville, said the company had met with leaders in area counties about building a pipeline to bring in water from Val Verde County, hundreds of miles south of the Permian Basin.

Carter said the company had since secured a “substantial number” of leases with landowners in Val Verde County, and some oil and gas companies in the region were considering proposals to become customers, making the pipeline affordable for homeowners in these communities.

Environmental advocates worry pumping water from the border could harm the Rio Grande and the Devil's River, and Lake Amistad, while some border residents worry about their own water supplies.

“If we had our way, we would not have anybody coming in here and exporting our groundwater,” Mike Wrob, a Del Rio councilman, said. “But that’s not really realistic. All we can hope to do is regulate it so not too much is taken.”

The city has hired lawyers to draft legislation to create a Val Verde Groundwater Conservation District that they plan to submit to lawmakers this month. Unlike much of the state, Val Verde County has no entity to regulate groundwater pumping, stoking fears that such a project could easily drain the resource.

“Without one, it is kind of open season right now,” Wrob said.

Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.