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Holding Fraser Accountable
Wednesday, April 27, 2011 • Posted April 27, 2011

Dear Editor:

Your paper of last week printed an article from the Llano Tea Party praising our state senator Troy Fraser for encouraging voters "to hold their elected officials accountable and remind them that they work for us, not the other way around."

Last year, many Mason County residents spent substantial amounts of their time and money fighting the proposed routing of the CREZ transmission lines through the scenic hill country. In 2005, Senator Fraser foisted this dilemma on us by authoring Senate Bill 20, which created the CREZ program and laid the groundwork for those lines.

In the current legislative session, Senator Fraser introduced Senate Bill 332, which may make it harder for groundwater conservation districts to manage the amount of water pumped out of Texas aquifers. A modified version of his bill has already passed in the senate. The full implications of the bill remain unknown, although its supporters claim that it will "protect" the rights of all property owners.

So which property owners in the hill country are most likely to benefit? Probably not you and me, but instead a handful of water marketers who want to sell water from rural areas to big cities, hobby ranchers who want to keep their vanity ponds full, and developers of exclusive luxury resorts that require lots of water for golf courses. Senator Fraser’s bill guaranteeing these powerful landowners a "vested" right in groundwater potentially makes it easier for them to sue groundwater districts and demand compensation if they are prevented from engaging in high-use activities that could dry up their neighbors’ wells.

Those neighbors, meanwhile, have little recourse. In his official press release announcing Senate Bill 332, Senator Fraser pointed out, with apparent approval, that Texas landowners cannot "be held liable for harming a neighbor’s well by exercising their right to capture the groundwater."

I heartily agree that we citizens should hold our elected officials accountable for the impact their actions have on our lives.

Scott Zesch

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