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No one is absolutely certain what agricultural production will be like in the Texas Panhandle in 10 or 20 years but most agree that it will be different.
Irrigation systems have been limited by water availability over the past three years on the Texas High Plains.
“It was a matter of money to producers,” said Steve Verett, executive vice president, Plains Cotton Growers. He said proving how much water they were pumping was expensive using those meters. “We have to find alternative means of monitoring,” he said. “We don’t have to use meters.”
Coleman agrees. “We are working on different ideas through the county committees to come up with several options,” he said, “rather than regulate one way and one device.”
He defends the need to monitor water use. “Monitoring helps improve water use efficiency.”
Alternative means of monitoring water use may include options used during a transition period: 1) natural gas consumption, (2) electric consumption, and (3) hour meters/nozzle packages on center pivot systems.
Knowing annual water use allows the district to establish equitable production rates.
Water use regulations have been met with some “pushback” from users, Coleman said. “In the time I’ve been here, we’ve had opposition present at our board meetings.” He thinks the most heated opponents consist of a “small but vocal,” group of producers. A coalition of opponents “has attended every board meeting, but our county committee meetings are not hearing a lot of opposition now.”
Giving people an opportunity to offer input has helped ease tensions. “Good dialogue offers some good questions and possible solutions to problems.”
Hopper said the opportunity to serve on the board comes with a lot of responsibility and takes a lot of time.
“For me to tell people what they need to know takes about 10 hours. To learn what I, as a director, need to know would take about two years. The board members typically spend 20 to 30 hours a week working on these issues. But it’s that important. It takes a lot of time and energy.”
He said the District and water stakeholders have to look ahead. “The District and the board are doing everything we can to be as accountable as possible to the people we represent.”
He’s also adamant that resolving water issues and managing the water resources in the District is best done by the people in the district. For one thing, the High Plains water situation differs significantly from other parts of the state. “In other areas, they have major and minor aquifers. The High Plains has one aquifer (the Ogallala). The Ogallala is a deep aquifer that doesn’t recharge as do other aquifers across the state. It’s also uneven across the region.