No Stamford Water for Proposed Tenaska Coal Plant

West Texas Doesn’t Have Enough Water to Sell to a Coal Plant

Hydrological Report Shows: Stamford Must Not Sell its Water for Proposed Tenaska Coal Plant

A water report released today by Sierra Club and citizens of the west Texas cities of Stamford, Sweetwater, and Abilene concludes that if a water contract is granted to the proposed Tenaska coal-fired power plant, it would severely diminish water supplies where current water demands are significantly unmet by the available supply.  The report by Glenrose Engineering, “Lack of Water Availability from City of Stamford for the Proposed Tenaska Coal-Fired Power Plant,” finds that operations of the proposed Tenaska coal plant, if contracted, would require a consistent water supply even during drought conditions and would cut deeply into the available water supply, displacing existing water users.

“The financial temptations are strong for communities who are suffering economically,” said Dr. Jeff Haseltine, a professor at Abilene Christian University.  “But while Tenaska can make it rain money, Tenaska can’t make it rain rain.” 

The past two years the proposed Tenaska coal plant has been negotiating behind closed doors with the City of Stamford for a water contract that could lock in water withdrawals from the City’s water supply, Lake Stamford, for up to 30 years.

“The bottom line is that we are facing one of the worst droughts on record in the state of Texas, and west Texas is seeing the worst of it,” said Eva Hernandez with the Sierra Club in Texas.  “There is no telling when it will rain and the drought will let up.  Giving water to an unnecessary coal plant would be irresponsible, especially when the energy from the coal plant is not even needed in the state.[1]

 According to the hydrological study released today:

  • Existing permits for Lake Stamford are already more than double the one-year safe reservoir yield.
  • The City of Stamford wastewater effluent volume is about one quarter of the proposed power plant demand.
  • Increasing lake withdrawals to meet power plant water demands could increase water treatment costs for existing City of Stamford potable water customers during critical drought conditions.
  • It would leave less water in the reservoir to meet existing unmet water demands in Haskell County for agricultural irrigation.

Eric Herm, West Texas farmer and author warns, “There is no substitute for water.  No alternative. Money and its false promise comes and goes without fulfilling our lives or nourishing our bodies. Without the coal plant, we still survive. Without water, we do not. We have to be extremely careful with our remaining water supply, particularly in our arid climate. Corporations like big coal companies could care less about the long-term effects of sucking dry our aquifers sooner than later. They’ll move on to the next town or area. For those of us who call West Texas home, it is our duty to protect our water supply from negligent use — no matter how much money they promise.” 

An earlier analysis of wastewater effluent, ground and surface water availability in Nolan County concluded that existing water demands in that county also could not be met with available water supplies and also recommends against selling Nolan County’s water to the proposed Tenaska coal plant.

Yes!  Its a footnote in a blog post.  [1] The state’s electricity grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) stated in its May 2011 Report on the Capacity, Demand, and Reserves in the ERCOT Region that the supply of energy is outpacing demand and concludes Texas has additional energy reserves – a 21% cushion when the requirement is 13%.

For more information, contact:  Eva Hernandez, Sierra Club, 512-299-1550, Dr. Jeff Haseltine, Abilenians Against Tenaska, 325-280-3669, Whitney Root, Texans Against Tenaska 325-455-5652

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