Tag Archives: water management

Water management must remain a top city priority

Maybe I am preaching to the proverbial choir, but I’ll preach this “sermon” anyway.

Amarillo City Council members’ decision to hire Jared Miller as our next city manager came after a discussion of issues that lacked one critical component: water management and conservation.

I don’t know, of course, what council members discussed in executive session with Miller and the four other finalists for the city manager job. Perhaps they talked openly, candidly and freely with them all about an issue that had become a top priority of the man they succeeded, Jarrett Atkinson.

It needs to remain there.

I say this feeling a bit strange, given all the moisture that’s fallen on the High Plains during the past 24 hours. It’s only a drop in the grand scheme of our water needs.

Atkinson came to the city after serving as a water planner for the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission. He is an acknowledged expert on water resources and knowing how to conserve what is without question the most valuable resource we have in this region. I am quite certain he is going to bring that knowledge to bear in Lubbock, where he has just begun as that city’s manager.

The city — working with the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority — has done a great job of securing water rights to keep us flush with water (pun intended, I suppose) for the next couple hundred years. Atkinson played a big role in securing those rights.

The city’s aggressive water-rights-acquisition policy has helped us forestall many of the mandatory water-use restrictions that have been implemented in many cities throughout the state.

The city’s need to conserve and protect this resource doesn’t diminish even with the acquisition of those water rights and the relationship the city has with CRMWA and other water planning entities.

One of the Amarillo city manager’s many duties must be to keep both eyes focused intently on water we’re pulling out of the Ogallala Aquifer and from Lake Meredith.

I will anticipate hearing Jared Miller’s perspective on how we manage the one resource that gives life to the High Plains of Texas.

City still needs water expertise


Jarrett Atkinson brought some rare knowledge to his job as Amarillo city manager.

He’s no longer in that spot, but the need for that knowledge remains.

Atkinson is a highly regarded expert on water management and acquisition. Prior to taking over as city manager he served as an assistant to the then-manager Alan Taylor; and prior to that he served as the chief water-planning guru for the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission.

In a six-minute interview with my friend Karen Welch at Panhandle PBS, one gets a sniff of Atkinson’s expertise on water issues as he and Welch talk about some of the challenges facing city government.

Take a look.

Atkinson was essentially forced out of his job by a dramatic change at the top of City Hall’s governance. Three new City Council members were elected in May and they brought a brand new approach to governing. Atkinson is too much of a gentleman to have said it out loud and directly when he tendered his resignation, but it’s fairly clear he couldn’t work with the new council majority.

The city’s downtown revival is going to proceed. Where it will end up remains anyone’s guess at the moment.

It’s that water issue that also must remain at the top of the city’s agenda. Without water, Amarillo cannot function. Atkinson speaks with easy eloquence about the technical issues relating to drilling for the water, pulling it out of the ground and quenching the city’s thirst for well past the foreseeable future.

The city’s near- and long-term water needs will be met through the purchase of water rights, Atkinson assures Panhandle PBS viewers.

That’s fine. The city will miss his knowledge, though, on managing that priceless resource.

My hope is that the next city manager — whether it’s the current interim boss, Terry Childers  or someone else — brings water management knowledge to the job, even though Atkinson’s depth of expertise on the subject will be difficult to duplicate.


Debate is off, now it's on

Someone pick me up off the floor. I’m getting dizzy trying to keep up with the on-again, off-again, on-again Texas gubernatorial debate status.

Republican candidate Greg Abbott backed out of a planned debate with Democratic candidate Wendy Davis. That announcement came Friday.

Now comes word that the candidates will debate Sept. 19, in McAllen.

Hey, what gives?

I’m glad they’ll debate. Frankly, I’d like to see more of them prior to the election this November.

The Texas Tribune posted an interesting item profiling the debates the candidates for Texas governor have had dating back to 1982.


Abbott and Davis need to face off.

Abbott had backed out of a Dallas debate because his new debate planner, Bob Black, didn’t like the roundtable format agreed to earlier by Abbott and Davis campaign advisers. I considered that to be kind of chicken bleep of Black to pull the plug on something his guy had agreed to already.

The Davis camp accused Abbott of being scared. No surprise there.

Now the two are going to meet under the auspices of another TV network.

They’ll travel to South Texas.

How about coming way up yonder? To Amarillo? How about talking to us about your plans to implement further statewide water management plans. Water’s a big deal around here. How about talking about how you intend advance efforts to develop more affordable wind-powered electricity. You two know this already, but we’ve got lots of wind blowing.

I’m glad to hear that Abbott and Davis will face off at least once. More would be better.