Fort Stockton City Leaders Rally Against House Bill 4805

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

Midland- The delivery may be the same, but instead of oil, Clayton Williams wants to build a pipeline to move millions of gallons of water out of Fort Stockton. The rule of capture allows Williams to pump water from the land he owns in the Belding area just North of Fort Stockton.

"Were not draining any water from anybody. Fort Stockton has three times more water than they're using," Williams told Newswest 9.

The businessman is getting help from Austin. On Monday, Representative Tom Craddick (R) introduced a bill, that if passed, would create the West Texas Water Supply District. The bill includes the names of board members that would have authority to order taxes, issue bonds, and use the power of eminent domain, if needed, to secure water for the district. The bill also allows the district to move water up to 130 miles, the distance from Fort Stockton to Midland.

City leaders in Fort Stockton voted unanimously on Tuesday night to adopt a resolution to stop the bill. Leaders worry the water supply is not limitless and say Williams already puts a strain on the city when he pumps millions of gallons of water used to irrigate his farms each Spring.

"This is a for profit corporation looking to profit on our most precious resouce," Fort Stockton Mayor Ruben Falcon said over the phone. "We do not want this to happen. It's going to take everything we have."

Williams stands behind a hydrology study he commissioned but the Mayor raised doubts about the validity of the study. Falcon says there is no impartial study, but if you walk around Fort Stockton the lack of water is evident.

"Water is life and it's vital to us," Falcon said the bill is too broad and would give the West Texas Water Supply District board too much authority to issue debt through bonds and make taxes.

Williams claims the project can move forward without Craddick's bill but says this offers a financially better plan. Williams said not only does Clayton Williams Energy stand to earn money, but so does Pecos County.

"Last I knew it was a free market," Williams said.

Falcon says the decision to sell the water to Williams should rest in the hands of voters of Fort Stockton, if it ever comes to that, he said.