River authority and advocacy group sign new agreement

By Sara Sneath – Victory Advocate

The Aransas Project
Whooping Cranes at Aransas NWR. Photo by Kevin Sims

The Aransas Project and Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority have recommitted to working together to find ways to balance the water needs of an ever-growing population and threatened wildlife.

The two groups, which have historically fought in court over differing visions of water needs, first signed an agreement to work together in February.

But the river authority’s longtime general manager, Bill West, retired in late September. The new agreement was signed Monday by West’s successor, Kevin Patteson.

“The signing of the agreement is just another way to reaffirm our commitment to conducting the appropriate studies related to the Guadalupe River watershed,” Patteson said. “And to meeting our mutually agreed-upon goals.”

The agreement is not legally binding, but Jim Blackburn, The Aransas Project’s former attorney and current board member, said the good faith agreement is innovative in its approach to water management in the state.

The six-page document outlines the need for more research into habitat needs for endangered whooping cranes, freshwater mussels and other wildlife in the Guadalupe Delta. The document also addresses the need for a dollar value to be placed on water in the state.

This value would include the true cost of taking water that would otherwise flow into the bay, supporting estuaries, as well as commercial and recreational fishing.

The groups plan to meet early next year to seek funding and further devise their strategy, Blackburn said.

***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo
population of wild whooping cranes and their habitat. *****

Friends of the Wild Whoopers is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.