WATER – FOR THE FUTURE

     Our present supplies of potable water have limits, and during not-infrequent droughts and other emergencies we test those limits.  Plainly, we need to prioritize efforts to acquire or develop new sources of fresh water, particularly if we want to continue to grow our State's population.  And my understanding is we should have enough water - but a lot of it may require treatment, and we may need to develop a more efficient market for those who want to sell water and a better infrastructure to get that water to where it is needed.

     What we certainly don't need are mandates from bureaucrats effectively taking water from our farmers and ranchers who don't want to market their water to others.  Unless and until sold, landowners own the water under their land.  Those ground water rights are a valuable property right; when I consider a parcel of farmland to purchase or lease, a reliable source of good water is a requirement and no doubt represents a significant portion of the price. 

     But at the same time, we farmers and ranchers need to recognize that perceptions matter.  For example, when we are growing irrigated cotton at a loss, we should prudently consider how we would explain that usage to an urban politician desperately searching for water for his or her constituents who are tired of water rationing.  We ag producers may understand that cotton grown at a loss to the farmer still provides good paying work to a host of others, both on and off the farm, but such altruistic motives may not be obvious to our urban neighbors.