Hundreds of people opposed to the sale of water from Toledo Bend Reservoir to investors planning to sell it to Texas breathed a collective sigh of relief last night-- when the Louisiana Sabine River Authority decided to put the issue on hold. There will be no out of state water sales for now-- but the issue is far from dead.
It will likely come up again during and after Louisiana develops its own comprehensive water plan.
Toledo Bend Reservoir is the largest man-made body of water in the south with 1200 miles of shoreline. It's in Louisiana and Texas on the Sabine River. Some say, if it weren't for the drought, proposed water sales to Texas would never have become controversial. But concern about proposed out-of-state sales brought hundreds of people to a meeting at Cypress Bend Resort near Many.
Paul Ringo drove to the meeting from the Lake Charles area because he's what they call a Sabine River Keeper who advocates for the river. He's concerned about downstream effects. "We're part of the River Keeper alliance. There are river keepers all over the United States dedicated to preserving the streams and making sure issues related to water and public access to water are protected all over the United States."
Ringo and others also have questions about the money. The lake is used to generate electricity and some say water sales would allow more money to be made which would generate dollars for better upkeep and maintenance. Ringo received thunderous applause when he told the authority his group is calling for an audit. "We want to find out exactly where the money has gone for the electrical power generation, where the money is anticipated to go from this proposed sale, There are also a number of issues about how much water that could be sold under this proposal."
As well, many other concerns were raised at the meeting and in written comments sent to the authority. Some opposed now, admit water sales could eventually wind up being a good thing for Louisiana, but only after complex issues have been thoroughly studied and Louisiana's interests protected.
State Senator Gerald Long, who chairs the Senate Natural Resources Committee was there last night. He told the crowd he's spear heading a joint resolution to have the state do a comprehensive analysis of surface and groundwater to determine how to best manage the resources today and for generations to come.