The worst Texas drought since the 1950s has a handful of cities facing a prospect they’ve never encountered before: running out of water.
Many lakes and reservoirs across the state are badly depleted after more than a month of 100-degree temperatures and less than 1 inch of rain. The worst-off communities are already trying to run pipes to distant water, drilling emergency wells bringing on systems that turn waste water into tap water and banning water use for virtually anything beyond drinking, bathing and keeping businesses working.
Worst-case scenarios have a few towns running out of water in a matter of months. Although Texas cities have gone bone-dry before —Throckmorton in 2000 — the nearly 500 water systems statewide now under some mandatory restrictions appear unprecedented.
Prayer gatherings for rain have been held across the state, the most notable being called by Governor Rick Perry in July. So far, these measures have not brought even the promise of rain for most of us.
In the town of Llano, near Austin, which went to Stage 5 water restrictions back around the 4th of July weekend, officials have made a contingency plan to roll trucks of bottled water into town if rain doesn’t start to replenish the water supply, and workers are drilling test wells into parched, rock-like soil. Water restrictions are in effect in unprecedented in places like Midland, where barely a half-inch of rain has fallen since October of 2010.
If La Nina conditions return this fall, which the Climate Prediction Center says is likely, Texas is unlikely to see any significant relief from this drought well into next year.
As I sit at my desk with the sun pouring through the window heating everything around me, knowing that just outside the front door it is still a soil scorching 103 degrees F, I think that it may be time to raise the specter of (duhn-duhn-duhhhhhhn) CLIMATE CHANGE. Even if Governor Perry is traveling around the country telling everyone that scientists have cooked up the data on global warming for the cash, the numbers here in Texas seem to be refuting his claim and you can expect to see us blogging about it soon.
So far, there are nine candidates for the PUC Commission position that was vacated by PUC Chair, Barry Smitherman, when he resigned after being appointed by Governor Perry to the Texas Railroad Commission. Included in the slate of candidates are attorneys, elected officials, and civil engineer.
The Public Utility Commission of Texas regulates the state’s electric and telecommunication utilities, implements respective legislation, and offers customer assistance in resolving consumer complaints.
Since the introduction of competition in both the local and long distance telecommunications markets and the wholesale and retail electric markets, the PUC has also played an important role in overseeing the transition to competition and ensuring that customers receive the intended benefits of competition.
The most recent person to throw their hat into the ring is Douglas Carter Davis, a senior policy adviser on redistricting to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and a former employee of Gov. Rick Perry.“I believe that my familiarity with the Governor’s philosophy makes me a unique candidate for appointment,” Davis wrote in expressing his interest in either being named a commissioner at the PUC or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. His references include Dewhurst, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, and Sens. Kel Seliger(R-Amarillo)andTommy Williams (R-The Woodlands)
Douglas Carter Davis
Attorney John Mark McWatters serveson the U.S. Senate’s congressional oversight panel for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. His wife is a vice president and general counsel at Holly Corp. and Holly Energy Partners LP. His references include U.S.Rep. Jeb Hensarling and former Securities and Exchange Commissioner Paul Atkins.
Evin Lee Caraway III, is president and CEO of Worth Casualty Co., holds a law degree from Texas Tech University and has been named a “Super Lawyer” by Texas Monthlysix times. His references include Todd Staples and former PUC Chair, Barry Smitherman.
Candidate, attorney Kenneth Bruce Florence Jr. of Center lists among his accomplishments that he a member of the genius society called MENSA, has a pilot’s license and has practiced law in Kenai, Alaska.
Nelson Humberto Balido, president of the tri-national Border Trade Alliance, says he’s happy to fill a post “anywhere the Governor needs me!” Anywhere the Governor might need him included Secretary of State, Transportation Commission and Texas Tech Board of Regents.
Nelson Humberto Balido
Leander Mayor John D. Cowman, a real estate broker, confessed to being delinquent on his federal taxes in 2006 but also noted that he began mowing yards at age 10 and grew up in California where he enjoyed surfing and playing baseball. His references include U.S. Rep. John Carter and stateRep. John Schwertner, both Republicans from Georgetown.According to the Leander Ledger, the Mayor is is currently under an investigation by Texas Rangers following a complaint filed with the district attorney for allegations of misconduct and corruption of a city official.
John D. Cowman
Sugar Land City Councilwoman Jacqueline Baly Chaumette, who previously was appointed a director of the Brazos River Authority by Perry.
Jacqueline Baly Chaumette
Comal County Commissioner Gregory Parker who authored a book entitled “Global Warming. . . Really?” (obviously a climate change denier, a trait Governor Perry has rewarded handsomely in the past) and speaks frequently about energy issues to Republican and Tea Party organizations.
And finally, J. Paul Oxer, a civil engineer and managing director of McDaniel, Hunter & Price, Inc., said he once participated in class action lawsuits against his former employer, Enron, seeking benefits and severance pay. He was also a high school valedictorian who pleaded no contest in 1973 in DeKalb, Ga., to a misdemeanor charge of theft by taking. He noted that his probation included no fine and no reporting requirement.He wrote about this charge on his application that, “Even though it occurred more than 37 years ago, I’m including this information in the interests of completeness and integrity in answering all questions,”
J. Paul Oxer
The information here was gleaned by the Texas Energy Report from 91 pages of records released to them by Perry’s office under the Texas Public Information Act.
Obviously we don’t have the entire file on these folks, but given the important mission the PUC plays in Texas and the little bit of information provided by the Texas Energy Report’s review of the candidate records, we are interested in who you might choose for PUC Commissioner if you were Governor.