Water: Conservation should be separate from infrastructure finance policy

A state plan to help with local financing of water systems and resource development is something I support but, the water plan talk seems often to be purposely conflated with various forced conservation elements. Resource development and financing are endeavors very different from policy which restricts the use of private or publicly-held property.

Last week Joe Leathers, a director of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, wrote “While at the capitol I heard over and over how urban areas must be the priority for water funding and infrastructure. I understand that,” he said. And I agree but only as long as we’re talking solely about funding infrastructure. A problem is that conservation policy continues to be rolled into the same subject and that’s where you run into real trouble.

One of the reasons much of the talk about water conservation, regulation, and similar, is so upsetting to many of us is that much of it follows an anti-property-rights, pro-communist line of thinking. (And yes, communist, as in communal, is the correct term in this case.)

When people say we must have rules in-place to save a certain percent of groundwater for us in the future, it implies that we, the “us”, have a claim on such groundwater. Unless you are a property owner with groundwater under your land, you’ve no claim to that water anymore than to someone’s crop, livestock, equipment, or house.

Residents of cities have the same property rights to water under their lots and to that under well-fields they’ve purchased corporately as well as to surface water in reservoirs they build. They should remember that any pumpage metering plan or other restriction on the use of water-property is a taking, and can just as easily apply to the property owned jointly by residents of a city.

Legislators should be very careful to keep usage rules as a wholly separate issue from infrastructure financing.

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