Westward H2O

Texas’ new water plan is designed to save San Antonio.

THE SHOCK WAVES ARE BEGINNING to be felt from the Texas Water Commission’s decision that the Edwards Aquifer is an underground river—meaning that surface owners can’t use its water without a permit. Another state agency, the Water Development Board, was quick to dust off the old idea of transferring water from water-rich East Texas to water-poor areas dependent on the Edwards. The plan, still at the study stage, is to tap the state’s largest reservoir, little-used Toledo Bend on the Louisiana border, to provide water for Houston. Then Houston will no longer need as much water from other rivers, creating a surplus that can be moved to the next river to the west, creating a surplus that can be moved to … you get the idea. Eventually the westbound surplus will end up in the lower Guadalupe, freeing water in the upper Guadalupe to be used by San Antonio. But if the Water Commission’s ability to regulate private pumping doesn’t stand up—and it will be under fierce attack in court and in the Legislature—the plan is dead in the water.

Stir Crazy

IT’S NO SECRET that Texas parole policy has been a shambles for years. Headlines about heinous crimes committed by parolees have provided ample evidence that too many dangerous people were being released from prison too soon. But that policy is now changing. In the first three months of 1992, the parole board let out 6,832 criminals from Texas prisons, compared to an average quarterly release of more than 8,200 for the previous two years. The ßood of paroles was due in part to pressure from county governments, which were forced to keep convicted felons in local jails because there wasn’t any room in state prisons. The state’s ill-judged response was to empty the prisons: In the last fiscal year, there were 33,633 paroles, almost two

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