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State halts water use for some Wood County residents

By Glenn Evans
Jan. 9, 2012 at 10 p.m.

An East Texas water permit holder invoked its senior status and prompted state environmental regulators to halt water use by six Sabine River water rights holders including Wood County.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality declared that ongoing drought prompted it to suspend the water rights of entities holding permits issued since 1903.

The declaration does not apply to water use by municipalities or for power generation. It was issued on Jan. 4 in response to a letter from the Little Sandy Hunting and Fishing Club.

Texas water law gives priority to older water rights. So-called senior water rights holders get first call on the resource in drought.

The club, which issued its senior call on Nov. 30, hunts the Little Sandy National Wildlife Refuge in southern Wood County. The same group of conservationists convinced Congress in the 1980s to establish the wildlife refuge, ending local efforts to build Waters Bluff Reservoir along the Sabine River.

Under the order announced Monday, so-called junior water rights holders must stop collecting water for any use other than for household or livestock needs.

"The rights holders should have (notification letters) by now," Environmental commission spokeswoman Andrea Morrow said Monday. "They are all in Wood County."

Those water rights holders are Weldon S. Wells, West Lakes Club, Fellowship Church, Bo and Barney Holmes and Wood County.

The county's two water permits, issued in 1960 and 1965, are for recreation and flood control. Those of the two Holmeses are for irrigation, while the rest are listed as recreation use.

The hunting club did not return a phone message left on its office phone in Hawkins Monday.



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