Ruben Cantu

Ruben Cantu

A 1995 post-apocalyptic movie starring Kevin Costner and directed by Kevin Reynolds portrays a desolated world where small groups of individuals fight for survival on a planet flooded by the melting of the polar ice caps. The dry land has disappeared, giving way to a “Waterworld,” thus the title of the movie.

Although futuristic and fantastic, the movie represents the struggles a civilization has to go through when the assets they rely on to survive become scarce.

Del Rio and Val Verde County have been facing repeated attempts to control its water.

A few months ago by creating a groundwater district, and more recently by a project aimed at pumping water out of Val Verde County and use it to recharge the Edwards Aquifer, in the San Antonio area.

Last week, local conservation group Protect San Felipe Creek raised awareness in social media pertaining a presentation made before the Edwards Aquifer Authority board on Aug. 13.

Representatives of Southwest Sustainable Water Supply Company LLC, and Wet Rock Groundwater Services, pitched their plan to increase the flow of the springs by taking water to the Edwards and also being able to supply the rapidly growing area, population and development of the Medina/Bexar County area.

Granted that Val Verde County is not “Waterworld” nor the needs of our local residents are so dire that people are fighting for survival, but once the news broke out, the response from the public was overwhelming.

Via social media comments, letters, and phone calls, the citizens of Del Rio and Val Verde County spoke out. The general consensus is the water of the San Felipe Springs is a precious asset nobody should be messing with.

Water is life, and the life of Del Rio and its citizens is closely tied to the pristine waters of San Felipe Creek and the San Felipe Springs.

Located along the side of the Rio Grande River, the community of Del Rio is very unique among border towns because our water does not come from the river. The city of Del Rio pumps water from the San Felipe Springs.

The springs are the fourth largest in Texas, according to the Edwards Aquifer Authority.

The springs extend for over a mile along the San Felipe Creek on the grounds of the San Felipe Country Club and on several ranches to the north.

The history of Del Rio and the springs goes way back, as described in 1849 by Captain S.G. French. He noted the springs are the western-most of a whole series of outflows from the Edwards:

“… this spring is the source of the San Felipe; as it flows on, the volume of its water is increased by other large springs, on either side; until it becomes a creek, when it empties into the Rio Grande, eight miles below the crossing, some 30 feet wide and several feet deep. Near its junction with the Rio Grande, its banks are shaded with large groves of pecan, maple, elm, and mulberry trees…”

San Felipe Springs continues to supply water to the city of Del Rio and Laughlin Air Force Base. Although much of the area downstream from the springs is now urban, some water is still delivered via the irrigation canals and used for agriculture.

Swimming holes at Horseshoe Park and Lions Park are very popular cooling-off spots.

City of Del Rio and Val Verde County officials were not informed of the plan to pump water out to the San Antonio area by the advisors pitching the plan to the Edwards Aquifer Authority.

The springs and creek represent a landmark for the city of Del Rio, and the community has demonstrated it will be very protective when it comes down to its water.

Any decision to create a groundwater district or to sell water to a distant county should have the best interest and the well-being of the community first, and should be publicly discussed with local citizens.

Rubén Cantú has been a journalist since 1995. He is the managing editor of the Del Rio News-Herald. Contact him at ruben.cantu@delrionewsherald.com

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