Texas+Water Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Todd Votteler, talks with Robert Mace and Sharlene Leurig about a new study that is exploring the science behind Comanche Springs’ recent reawakening and the efforts that could help Fort Stockton reclaim its title as the Spring City of Texas.
Once one of the five largest springs in Texas, Comanche Springs ceased flowing in the 1950s due to significant groundwater pumping upstream from the springs. Over the last decade, however, the once-quiet springs have begun flowing again in the late winter months. The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University and Texas Water Trade are conducting a feasibility assessment of a market-based restoration of Comanche Springs. The assessment will evaluate what it would take to restore perennial flows using voluntary, market-based cooperation of groundwater owners in the Comanche Springs’ contributing and recharge zones.
Sharlene Leurig is the Chief Executive Officer of Texas Water Trade. She is a sustainable water finance expert with extensive experience in Texas on long-range water planning, infrastructure finance and water transactions. Formerly, she directed the Texas Environmental Flows Initiative, a collaboration of The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, the Harte Research Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and several other groups, to purchase water for the bays and estuaries of the Texas Gulf Coast. She also chaired the Austin Water Forward Task Force, which developed a groundbreaking 100-year water plan approved unanimously by the Austin City Council in 2018. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Physics and English from Washington University in St. Louis and a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was a fellow in the MIT-USGS Science Impact Collaborative, focusing on the role of science in multi-stakeholder resource planning and dispute resolution.
Robert Mace is the Interim Executive Director and Chief Water Policy Officer at The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and a Professor of Practice in the Department of Geography at Texas State University. He has over 30 years of experience in hydrology, hydrogeology, stakeholder processes and water policy, mostly in Texas. Before joining Texas State University in 2017, Mace worked at the Texas Water Development Board for 17 years ending his career there as the Deputy Executive Administrator for the Water Science & Conservation office. While at the Board, Robert worked on understanding groundwater and surface water resources in Texas; advancing water conservation and innovative water technologies such as desalination, aquifer storage and recovery, reuse, and rainwater harvesting; and protecting Texans from floods. Prior to joining the Texas Water Development Board, Robert worked nine years at the Bureau of Economic Geology at The University of Texas at Austin as a hydrologist and research scientist. Robert has a Bachelor of Science in Geophysics and a Master of Science in Hydrology from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and a doctorate in hydrogeology from The University of Texas at Austin.