San Saba River Among America’s Most Endangered Rivers
Outdated Water Management Threatens River Health, Water UsersApril 17th, 2013
Fay Augustyn, American Rivers, 202-347-7550
Griff Thomas, Blockhouse Ranch & Friends of the San Saba, 830-798-6727
John Quinn, Quinn Ranch & Friends of the San Saba, 325-456-7679
Luther King, 4k Land and Cattle Company & Friends of the San Saba, 817-332-3235
Washington, D.C.- American Rivers named the San Saba River of Texas among America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2013 today, shining a national spotlight on outdated water management that threatens river health as well as flows for ranchers and Austin’s chain of lakes.
American Rivers and its partners are calling on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Texas State Legislature to implement a watermaster system, ensuring a limit on withdrawals to maintain adequate flows.
“The America’s Most Endangered Rivers report is a call to action to save rivers that are facing a critical tipping point,” said Fay Augustyn of American Rivers. “We all need healthy rivers. They provide our drinking water, support the economies of our communities, and promote public health and quality of life. We hope citizens will take action to ensure a healthy San Saba River for generations to come.”
The San Saba is threatened by excessive water withdrawals by landowners and irrigators that, in recent years, have all but dried up 50 miles of the river for months at a time. This hurts downstream ranchers who need water, damages the river ecosystem, and negatively impacts the Austin chain of lakes.
“With the water crisis in Texas affecting farmers, lakes, and city water supplies, it is unconscionable that we continue with an antiquated water rights system that allows removal of water from our rivers to the point that they no longer flow,” said Griff Thomas, a local rancher.
“It makes no sense to deny water to the rice farmers downstream who are paying for the water, and at the same time allow unmetered withdrawal by farmers upstream who do not pay.”
“The San Saba River is the river of life for my ranch. We rely on it to maintain good habitat for the wildlife and our livestock. Water is the most important natural resource God put on earth, and we must have a natural flow on the San Saba River to ensure that the Highland lakes stay full for all the people of Texas,” said John Quinn, a local rancher.
“The elimination of waste and abuse as it effects the flow of the San Saba River would not only be proper but be beneficial for a very large number of individuals who depend on the Highland Lakes for water,” said Luther King, a local rancher. “A watermaster’s proper management for the upper stretch of the San Saba River should result in more water flowing to the Highland Lakes, resulting in more availability for individuals, industrial users, rice farmers, and the bay.”
The San Saba flows through the scenic Hill Country of Texas, providing water for municipalities, farms, anglers, and boaters on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. The river is home to many fish and amphibian species, as well as a rare species of mussel found nowhere else in the world. The San Saba also supports the huge burr oak and pecan trees along its banks.
The annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® report is a list of rivers at a crossroads, where key decisions in the coming months will determine the rivers’ fates. Over the years, the report has helped spur many successes including the removal of outdated dams, the protection of rivers with Wild and Scenic designations, and the prevention of harmful development and pollution.