SENATOR HEGAR ADDRESSES EDWARDS AQUIFER STAKEHOLDERS AS WORK BEGINS ON AQUIFER SPECIES RECOVERY PLAN
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — Senator Glenn Hegar addressed the stakeholders of the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program (EARIP) Thursday, to stress the significance of the work beginning this fall on the technical and policy decisions required for the development of the EARIP Habitat Conservation Plan. Senator Hegar was a sponsor of the state legislation two years ago that assisted in forming the EARIP. He praised the stakeholders for their hard work and dedication, saying "You have made progress that no one would have imagined possible when this process started." Senator Hegar stressed the upcoming deadlines the group will be working towards, and encouraged the stakeholders to persevere in making the tough decisions ahead of them "in the same collaborative spirit that has defined the EARIP thus far".
Also in attendance at this meeting was the newly hired EARIP facilitation team, Collaborative Processes, led by Joseph McMahon of Denver. McMahon's team has worked on similar collaborative programs involving water issues, including a Missouri River endangered species dispute and Idaho's Comprehensive Aquifer Management Plan. The facilitation team will assist the stakeholders in making decisions that must be implemented to satisfy requirements of the federal Endangered Species Act while balancing the region's water needs. The team continues to meet with various stakeholders getting details of their respective issues, and will meet later in the month with scientists involved in the EARIP.
The EARIP stakeholders also interviewed three candidate firms who seek to serve as the consultant tasked with assisting the EARIP in the development and preparation for the writing of the Habitat Conservation Plan and associated program documents. The group intends to submit the plan to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service by September 1, 2011.
EARIP stakeholders include water utilities, cities, groundwater conservation districts, agricultural users, industrial users, environmental organizations, individuals, river authorities, downstream and coastal communities, and state and federal agencies.
For additional information, the website is http://earip.tamu.edu/.