House Bill 4805 Remains a Hot Topic in Fort Stockton

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

FORT STOCKTON- The Comanche Springs don't flow this time of year but it seems everyone around town is talking about them and the aquifer that supplies them.

"I am afraid if all these gallons of water are coming out that it will drain out," local resident Viola Villanueva, said.

Lawmakers in the Natural Resources Committee listened to testimony both for and against house bill 4805, On Tuesday. Representative Tom Craddick, who authored the bill spoke before the committee. Craddick told the other lawmakers; lawyers worked to clarifying the language in the bill that may have been viewed as too broad.

Fort Stockton Mayor Ruben Falcon addressed the committee. The Mayor passed around pictures of the city's Comanche Springs that don't flow when Clayton Williams and other farmers use water pumped from an aquifer below the Leon Belding area.

Iraan Mayor Dana St. Clair, along with a representative from Brewster County expressed opposition to the bill but said they had not reviewed the amendments.

Some Ranchers spoke out against the proposed use of eminent domain in the bill. They say a pipeline would disrupt their lands.

In Fort Stockton, some are opposed the legislation because it would create the West Texas Water Supply District that is designed to help Oilman Clayton Williams build a water pipeline from his land outside of Fort Stockton to Midland. More than 300 people have signed a petition to stop it.

"Most of the talk that I hear is pretty negative. We have planned for our water for years and it's a little bit hard to think about sharing when you don't know how much you're going to have," Libby Procter said.

Hydrologist Mike Thornhill, who conducted a year and a half long study of the aquifer said rainwater funnels from nearby mountain ranges. Thornhill explains at high elevations along the Glass Mountains and the Jeff Davis Mountains there is much more rainfall and because it's in a large area there is significant recharge of the aquifer.

"I don't want it to become like San Antonio [where] you can't water [but] once a week," Andy Rivera said, "I am totally against it."

Others argue the bill might help Pecos County.

"If Midland needs water and Fort Stockton has plenty of water, they should divide it," Donald Cowan said it could be a win-win situation. "The county could use that money for schools."

The Natural Resources committee can vote next week to send the bill on for consideration by the Calenders committee for scheduling.