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GBRA files to intervene in suit over whooping crane deaths

By JJ VELASQUEZ
April 21, 2010 at 6:03 p.m.
Updated April 20, 2010 at 11:21 p.m.


THE ARANSAS PROJECT

The Aransas Project, represented by attorney Jim Blackburn in the suit, was formed last year as a watchdog of freshwater flows in the Guadalupe River Basin. The group claims the Texas environmental agency mismanaged the water system and illegally harmed the birds.

The group is concerned with whooping cranes' health because it believes their vitality is emblematic of the bay system's health. Aransas County communities depend economically on the San Antonio Bay for tourism and commerce.

CORPUS CHRISTI - A federal courtroom could get a little more crowded now that a state river authority aims to enter the fray.

The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority filed Wednesday to intervene in a federal lawsuit. The suit, filed by The Aransas Project in March, claims whooping cranes died in record numbers last year because Texas Commission on Environmental Quality officials over-allocated water rights.

The river authority has a legal interest in the suit because it regards the water it manages, said LaMarriol Smith, a river authority spokeswoman.

So it decided Wednesday at its regular board meeting to "defend it as vigorously as the state," she said.

The state environmental agency, meanwhile, regulates the allocation of surface water rights. The lawsuit could potentially change that, Smith said.

"If you file against the state, you're basically filing against us," she said.

A judge will decide whether to approve the river authority's intervention as a defendant in the case.

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