Conservation Matters December 2014

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

Texas Water Journal to moderate water forum Jan. 20 in San Marcos

By Kathy Wythe

Texas Water Journal to moderate water forum Jan. 20 in San Marcos

The Texas Water Journal, an online, peer-reviewed journal about Texas water issues, will present its third Texas Water Journal Forum, “The History of the Edwards Aquifer Dispute: A View from the Trenches,” Jan. 20 in San Marcos.

The journal is published jointly by The Texas Water Journal, a nonprofit organization, and the Texas Water Resources Institute.

The forum will be held 9 a.m.-4:15 p.m. on the 11thfloor of the JC Kellam Building on the Texas State University campus. Texas State’s Department of Geography and The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment are hosting the forum.

The forum is free for those not wanting lunch, including Texas State University faculty and students, and registration is $40 for the forum with lunch and parking. Registration is required for all attendees and is available available on Texas State’s Department of Geography’s website at

“This forum will focus on the early years of the almost 60-year conflict over the use of the Edward Aquifer,” said Dr. Todd Votteler, the journal’s editor-in-chief and executive manager of science, intergovernmental relations and policy for the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority.

“This is our first forum devoted to a specific Texas water dispute and will feature many of the prominent players from the dispute,” he said.

Dr. Robert Gulley, a journal editor and former executive director of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan and former Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources program coordinator for the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Plan, said the forum will provide an opportunity to create and preserve a living oral history of the Edwards Aquifer dispute.

Gulley said the panelists will discuss the early years of the dispute, which centered on the struggle between the city of San Antonio and downstream environmental and agricultural interests over the aquifer’s use. When voluntary efforts to resolve the dispute failed, groundbreaking litigation resulted, leading to the Texas Legislature creating the Edwards Aquifer Authority to manage withdrawals from the aquifer, he said.

 “The forum should be an exciting opportunity for those interested in the history of the Edwards Aquifer as well as those interested in the evolution of water disputes to get a first-hand perspective on one of the nation’s most protracted and acrimonious water wars,” Gulley said.

In addition to Votteler and Gulley, who will serve as moderators for two of the panels, forum panelists include:

  • Senator Ken Armbrister, Texas Senate and former director of legislative affairs for Governor Rick Perry
  • Luana Buchner, Edwards Aquifer Authority chairperson; former Medina County Underground Water Conservation District general manager
  • John Hall, Environmental Defense Fund’s Texas state director of clean energy; former Texas Water Commission chairman
  • Stuart Henry, counsel for the Sierra Club in Sierra Club v. Babbitt and Sierra Club v. City of San Antonio
  • Russ Johnson, McGinnis Lochridge & Kilgore partner; counsel for the city of San Antonio in Sierra Club v. Babbitt and Sierra Club v. City of San Antonio
  • Ken Kramer, Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter former director
  • Weir Labatt, Western States Water Council chairman; former Texas Water Development Board member; former San Antonio City Council member
  • Robert Puente, San Antonio Water System’s chief executive officer and president; former Texas Representative
  • Peter Schenkkan, Graves Doughert Hearon & Moody partner; counsel for the Sierra Club in Sierra Club v. Babbitt and Sierra Club v. City of San Antonio
  • Charlie Shockey, former U.S. Department of Justice senior trial attorney in Sierra Club v. Babbitt and Sierra Club v. City of San Antonio
  • Michael J. Spear, former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regional director
  • John Specht, former Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority general manager from early 1970s until 1994
  • Bill West, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authoritygeneral manager since February 1994

Glenn Hegar, Texas Comptroller-elect and author of Senate Bill 3 that created the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program, will be the keynote speaker for the forum. With a legislative session on the horizon, the forum also will include with a discussion by key Texas legislators, including Representatives Doug Miller and Lyle Larson, on the future of water in the Edwards Aquifer region, Votteler said.

“We invite the interested public to join the panel as we explore this complex water issue,” Votteler said. “Future journal forums may address the resolution of the Edwards Aquifer dispute and other efforts to reach consensus on complex water issues.”

For more information, contact Votteler at To read the journal, visit

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