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Exelon, freshwater flows points of concern at Region L water hearing

By JJ VELASQUEZ
April 12, 2010 at 10 p.m.
Updated April 12, 2010 at 11:13 p.m.


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WHAT'S NEXT?

Region L will hold two more public hearings:

San Antonio City Council Chambers

114 W. Commerce St., San Antonio

7 p.m. Tuesday

San Marcos Activities Center

501 E. Hopkins St., San Marcos

7 p.m. Thursday

The board will consider changes based on comments from public hearings at meetings in May and in August.

The plan will then be submitted to the Texas Water Development Board on or before Sept. 1 for approval.

Aransas County isn't in Region L, but residents of the coastal county are concerned about the group's water use plans.

Region L water planning group covers Victoria and 19 other counties in South-Central Texas. The group held a public meeting Monday to gain public comment on its proposed five-year water plan.

Aransas County resident Lamar Story was among three speakers from Aransas County at the hearing. They voiced their concerns about the need for freshwater flows in the San Antonio Bay system, whose vitality is as precious to them as money, Story said.

"Water in the river is like the money that goes in your hand each month," he said. "Don't spend all our water. We need the water in our bays."

The hour-long meeting included comments from 13 people, including state Rep. Geanie Morrison.

Morrison voiced her support of the current plan's inclusion of a project that would divert 75,000 acre-feet of water per year to cool a proposed Exelon nuclear power plant.

The water would be derived from either the Guadalupe River saltwater barrier or the Calhoun Canal system.

Exelon submitted in March an early site permit application to continue to evaluate whether a proposed south Victoria County site could feasibly support a nuclear power plant in the future.

The project was written into the plan for use within the next decade. The power plant won't be constructed for at least another three years as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reviews Exelon's application.

The Exelon project was the issue of contention Monday as people representing interests in Victoria and Aransas counties spoke.

Ron Outen, director of The Aransas Project, requested that the Exelon project be removed from the plan.

The group is concerned with freshwater flows to the San Antonio Bay system, which Outen said is crucial to the Aransas County economy because a lack of freshwater flows can adversely affect marine life and the health of the bays.

He said more research is needed to be done.

"I don't think there's any valid reason to rush through this," he said.

Morrison said the proposed power plant would be an economic boon.

"It will have a tremendous impact on the economy of our area and on the state as a whole," she said.

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