March 18, 2011

San Antonio Water Conservation

From the NYTimes: San Antonio is buying conservation easements from area land owners in order to preserve the long term viability of the Edwards Aquifer, the city's primary water source.

I'm not a legal expert, but my understanding is that land easements are legal obligations written into the land's deed. They have the virtue of being much cheaper than buying the land outright, which San Antonio learned the hard way, when an earlier initiative to purchase tracts of farmland fizzled out. And they are permanent restrictions on what said land can be used for--in this case, on subdivisions and other developments that intensify water use, or pollute ground water.
The conservation program has won support from San Antonio’s business community, which sees water security as vital to development.
“It sounds very touchy-feely, but at the end of the day, if we don’t have water, then it’s like a plant — our community withers and goes away,” said Richard Perez, the president and chief executive of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
"It sounds very touchy feely"--indeed. The wisdom there is that conservation is not about altruism, which is how conservation has traditionally been painted. It's about the viability of our communities and the places where we live.

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