New Federal Ruling on Minnows Impacts Lubbock's Future Water Supply

Published 08/04 2014 02:59PM

Updated 08/04 2014 06:28PM

LUBBOCK, TX -- The City of Lubbock said Monday that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will list the Sharpnose Shiner and the Smalleye Shiner minnows as an “endangered” species.  The decision could impact Lubbock’s future plans for water supply including proposals for development of the Post Reservoir. 
The city said USFWS designated critical habitat for the minnows in portions of the Upper Brazos River Basin.  For the most part the impact is from Garza County and areas downstream.
The city’s current water supply is not affected according to Aubrey Spear, City of Lubbock Director of Water Resources. 
“We don’t know all the details yet,” spear said. “They’ll have more details forthcoming.”
“They want there to be more than 100 miles of unobstructed river,” Spear said.  An alternative to the proposed Post Reservoir is a proposed Canyon Lake #7 between East Loop 289 and Buffalo Springs Lake.  
“They’ve dissected the river so Lake 7 would not be in the critical habitat,” Spear said.  “There might be emergency releases of water.”
“It will definitely create more red tape.  That’s really the impact,” Spear said.
Spear also said, “In our strategic plan, Lake #7 is already ranked more favorably than the Post Reservoir."

Dr. Gene Wilde is a biology at Texas Tech University. He said these two small species of fish can tell a lot about an area.

"These fish are found no where else in the world but the Brazos river, they're part of the Texas natural history heritage, and they're kind of indicator species for the river, I mean, if we lose these fish, it's an indicator that the river has less water in it, less water for cattle to use, less water for wildlife," Dr. Wilde said.

The City of Lubbock issued the following statement on Monday:



August 4, 2014

Today the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced its decision to list the Sharpnose Shiner and the Smalleye Shiner minnows as an “endangered” species.  They also created a designated critical habitat for these species located within portions of the Upper Brazos River Basin from Garza County south near Possum Kingdom Reservoir.  This action will have an impact on water supplies within the designated habitat area.  Fortunately, none of the City of Lubbock’s current surface water supplies are located within the shiners’ critical habitat area.  However, a few potential surface water supply strategies described in the City’s 2013 Strategic Water Supply Plan are impacted.

In 2013, the City participated in the USFWS public hearing and public comment process to address the City’s interests and commitment to responsible planning to minimize federal interference with local activities. The City remains actively engaged in assessing the proposed listing through a science-based approach. 

The City’s position throughout USFWS’s review period has been that measures are already in place in the Brazos River Basin that protect stream flow and the habitat of the Sharpnose and Smalleye Shiner.  The City remains committed to a balanced approach to protecting the species while also protecting the interests of Lubbock’s citizens.

Texas Senate Bill 3, passed in 2007, provides a comprehensive, science-based approach to managing stream flows in every river basin in the state in a way that protects the environment.  The City is actively engaged in the Brazos River Basin stream flow planning efforts.  This management effort ensures a local approach under state law that addresses concerns for the Shiner species.

The final rule from the USFWS will be formally published in the Federal Register on August 4, 2014, and will become effective 30 days after publication.  The Endangered Species Act defines an endangered species as any species that is at risk of extinction.

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