Proposal to Ship Valve Verde Groundwater to San Antonio Ignites Binational Opposition

Water users throughout the semi-desert region stretching along the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo are uniting in staunch opposition to a plan to pump and export more than 16 BILLION gallons of groundwater a year from the Edwards-Trinity Aquifer for use in San Antonio.

The plan—being promoted by the V.V. Water Company, Beeville—aims to cash in on water demand facing the San Antonio Water System and other west Texas cities without accounting for the severe impact to both ground- and surface water resources in Val Verde County and the water users who live there: irrigated agriculture, municipal suppliers, local industrial, mining, livestock, and rural domestic users; and wildlife species.

As much as 37 percent of the flow in the lower Rio Grande/Rio Bravo comes from the limestone karst of the Edwards-Trinity Aquifer. Lower groundwater levels resulting from such excessive pumping would diminish freshwater springs that feed the Devils River and other water bodies that in turn flow into the international Amistad Reservoir and the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo and their tributaries on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border.

Despite the very real risks, the impacts of such large scale pumping have not been adequately evaluated. Nor have the international implications to the shared water resources of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo been assessed.

On January 8, the Rio Grande Regional Water Authority affirmed a resolution “specifically oppos[ing] the exportation of groundwater from Dimmit and Val Verde Counties . . . until such time as the environmental, social and economic impacts to the RGRWA and the Rio Grande Basin and its tributaries are better understood.”

On January 13, the Asociación Ganadera Local de Acuña (an association of ranchers and cattle raisers in northern Coahuila, Mexico) wrote the San Antonio Water System (View Letter of Protest PDF) advising that its members “join with our neighbors in Val Verde County and downriver in opposing these water marketing and export ventures that will adversely affect our water supplies. We will work with our neighbors, through Mexico's agreements with the United States, to protect our shared water resources and the ecological benefits that the water provides to all of the people in this region.”

These latest protests augment an already escalating criticism from diverse interests, including the Devils River Conservancy, City of Del Rio, City of Laredo, Uvalde County, Rio Grande Regional Water Planning Group, Southwest Water Alliance, numerous Catholic and other faith-based organizations, and many citizens from both sides of the border.

Fact sheet on the issue.