By a unanimous vote, Bastrop County Commissioners approved and signed a resolution last month opposing TCEQ's pending ratification of LCRA's request.

"It has to stop somewhere because if they (LCRA) are allowed to cut off rice farmers downriver, it's just a matter of time before they do it to us as well," Pape argues, and he is not the only one.

The County Judges of Bastrop, Fayette, Colorado, Matagorda, and Wharton counties have signed a letter encouraging residents of their respective counties to rally against the issue and speak out against the emergency order at the Feb. 12 meeting.

In addition to the financial burden created by taking water away from farmers, Gertson, Pape and others say rural economies are greatly affected in many ways. Rice production requires milling and other support industries. No rice means those jobs disappear, increasing unemployment levels. And Pape says a lack of flowing water in the river robs downstream counties of recreational revenue.

He told county commissioners that even without additional rain this year, there is enough water in the Highland Lakes currently to provide drinking water to Austin residents for the next three years.

"The problem of a water shortage is being amplified because residents in Austin are using a great deal of water for non-essential purposes. During times of drought every stakeholder must be responsible and employ conservation measures. We do our part, and we believe the residents of Austin should do their part," he argued.

The issue comes before the full TCEQ Commission at their Feb. 12 meeting, being held at 9:30 a.m. at the TCEQ office, 12100 Park 35 Circle, Building E, Room 201S, in Austin.


Also of interest:

Red River water battle victory to Oklahoma

Texas faces water shortage without water plan

Southwest states gear up for water battle