talk+water: Robert Mace & Sharlene Leurig, Comanche Springs Reawakening

talk+water: Robert Mace & Sharlene Leurig, Comanche Springs Reawakening

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.

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One reply to talk+water: Robert Mace & Sharlene Leurig, Comanche Springs Reawakening

  1. Robert, glad to find out about this proposed project and that you are involved so the technical end of it will be right. Sharlene Leurig, you may not remember me, but we have met a few times at the Hill Country Alliance affairs. I was already retired from A&M’s Water Resources Institute and living in Kerrville. I worked out of the District Extension Center there in Ft. Stockton on the Pecos highway at the airport. One of my duties was to be a laison with the 3 Water Planning Groups in the West Texas district and I met Robert many times at Region J’s meetings at Kerrville, or Bracketville or Del Rio as well as at other water meetings.

    There were quite a few small farmers, mostly Mexican-American, who farmed with the creek flowing east from the springs and pool. A huge and wealthy farmer/rancher Clayton Williams had put in large wells east of town to irrigate many acres of high water requiring crops – alfalfa, cotton and pecans – a huge pecan orchard is flood irrigated south of town. All together and with growth in Ft.
    Stockton, the aquifer dropped too much to support the springs and park. Very hard feelings still existed among many Stockton and Pecos County residents when I lived and worked there and justifiably so. Williams’ son, Clayton Williams Jr. ran for Texas governor you may remember and lost to Ann Richards. Clayton became richer in the oil business and I believe still lives in Midland. Some years back he decided to get into the water sales business and come back home “no place like home!” and pump another aquifer piping it to Midland to sell to the city and to oil companies wanting oil for their business. It was tied up in court and I am not sure where that deal is now? Dead and buried I hope.

    I will try to come up with more background info for you folks and some contacts. good luck there are some great people out there who need something good, they have been screwed over before. Take care, Mike Mecke Kerrville

    A Pecos County Commissioner I knew there started the ball rolling on a proposal to build an artificial Commanche Spring in the park close to the swimming pool. He and I got together a committee of local and technical people to look into this. I believe it was sometime around 2006 or 07, Texas Parks & Wildlife was involved as well and some preliminary work began – I retired a little later in ’08 and never knew if it was completed, from listening to your interview on this page I assume it was not.

    “ › 2010/04/21 › fort-stockton-challenges-willia…
    Fort Stockton vs. Claytie – The Texas Tribune
    Apr 21, 2010 – The West Texas town of Fort Stockton is challenging a billionaire oil tycoon over … of water from the Pecos County portion of the Edwards-Trinity Aquifer. … Boundary and Water Commission in El Paso, the federal government” …

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