The looming water crisis in Texas has been attributed to the fact that serious tensions are observed in big cities in respect of securing water rights. For example, a land owner must obtain a permit from EAA to withdraw water from his or her land. At the initial stages of the process, only those land owners could obtain such permits, who benefited from water production between 1972 and 1993. However, nowadays, the mentioned rights are subject to selling, buying and transference from one owner to another one.
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The water conversion into a specific type of a commodity, as well as the establishment of water markets were the effects of the trade system established by the legislation. As a result, the market is now monopolized by municipal administrations, while small farmers either suffer losses or have to leave the business at all. This is the situation of paramount importance and its effects become more and more visible with every year. It can be explained by the necessity of proper water use ensuring and the implementation of tight management control measures in companies and municipal administrations dealing with water supply issues. The practical reflection of these issues can be observed in the price growth for the acre foot of the Edwards aquifer water which increased from $1,000 in 1998 to $5,250 today.
Specialized district bodies have been formed to regulate ground water consumption. They exercise broad discretion and are entitled to regulate pumping of water from aquifers in their jurisdiction. In addition, the rules and regulations are planned to be adopted for the control over the water users. They might present advantages to the initial water users before those who claim to have rights for a certain aquifer. Moreover, they are to establish limits for water production, and ban water export to other districts.
The steps directed at the limitation of access to water for its initial users may lead to regional or local conflict situations. The brightest example of the latter is the 1992 water crisis caused by the release of waters of the lower Rio Grande carried out by Mexican government. Mexico claims to have been led by the 1944 Treaty, but the actual effect of the release was catastrophic for South Texan and Mexican farmers whose businesses collapsed, and for the US – Mexico relations.
Composition of Edwards Aquifer Rocks
Edwards aquifer is an underground layer of porous, honeycombed, water-bearing rock that is between 300 -700 feet thick. It includes the Edwards and some associated limestone deposits. The length of its San Antonio segment equals 160 miles from Brackettville to Kyle. It is located at the level of about 5 to 40 miles at the surface of soil. Ground water deposits separate this aquifer segment from the Edwards limestone so that the water and limestone do not mix.
In the artesian zone there are other rock formations lying over the Edwards aquifer where water is taped inside. This zone is embraced by the two natural creations that are impenetrable to some extent. They are called the Glen Rose Formation and Del Rio Clay. The unit of the Edwards aquifer limestone which is confined by those natural formations consists of the primarily volcano ash that was blown by ocean winds and derived from the volcanism process on the Mexican pacific coast.
Rocks Geology, Rock Cycle and the Ground Water Crisis
Limestone was exposed to the open air and ocean winds, extensively eroded and was then covered again with new limestone formations. By this, the naturally shaped cavities and so-called aqueducts were formed to enable the aquifer to hold and transmit water resources. Thereafter, the new sediments appeared in the area with a certain degree of impermeability. Later, they formed a new confining unit in the aquifer.
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The shift of the tectonic activity of the ground plates that took place in the early Mesozoic era, and namely during the Jurassic Period, resulted in the raising of the area of the modern Texas to a level that was higher than the sea level. At the same time, the Gulf of Mexico was subject to the adverse process, i. e. started sinking. Finally, when the deposition of Del Rio Clay took place, other seas experienced the new stage of transgression.
Edwards Aquifer Groundwater Crisis and its Environmental, Social and Economic Aspects
One of the most serious consequences of the above considered processes may be the permanent depletion of aquifers lead in the areas where other sediments cause the compression of aquifers by pumping the water out. As a result the water storing capacity of the aquifer is inevitably reduced and can not be restored. The stopping of pumping is of no use in this situation either.
Political initiatives promoting the minimization of consumer water prices can lead to a subsequent and rather evident underpricing of water. Drawing from this, no incentive for water consumers to conserve their utilities and water supplies may be effective enough to foresee and stand the severe pressure of incremental costs that the work with the new customer base could involve.
When looking at the looming water crisis at the Edwards aquifer at Texas from the economic perspective, it is necessary to take up an attentive consideration of the management of the resource. Also, the resource allocation of the groundwater, the prices for ground water, the repercussions of having regulations on water access and not having the established regulations to control the usage of water should be considered. After this, the effective and practically grounded steps should be taken to improve the situation.
From the environmental point of view, it is important to decide whether the right for water can be defined as a human right or need. In this regard, it will also be necessary for a legislative body or an institution to have the mandate of ensuring the absence of any forms of discrimination in the densely populated areas. This means that not a single social or ethnic group can take an advantage of the other based on its higher social position or wealth. These advantages include deprivation of others of the limited resource of water to the extent that they have no water for their basic needs. This is necessary for ensuring that the rich don’t dominate the poor in accessing this vital resource. Organizations should not also dominate over individuals in this aspect.
Due to their nature, human beings tend to be greedy, wasteful and careless around the world. When a human gets something for free, he or she would not care of it as when they had to pay for it. Due to this fact, it is necessary to have a price tag attached to water, after which humans would be more careful in using the vital water resources more conservatively.