For years now, the speculation has been that Texas tycoon T. Boone Pickens and his Mesa Water Group were going to take his 211,000 surface acres of water rights in Roberts County and sell them downstate, depleting one of our largest water reserves in the Panhandle.
Mr. Pickens has agreed to sell those water rights, with the exception of the water under his Roberts County ranch, but with a twist.
The water will be staying right here.
The Canadian River Municipal Water Authority (CRMWA) has struck a deal with Mr. Pickens and Mesa water to buy all those rights for roughly $103 million.
Norman Wrights, President of the CRMWA board of directors, says in a press release issued Thursday afternoon, "We are pleased to have reached this point with Mesa Water. The addition of these groundwater rights to those currently owned by CRMWA further reduces our reliance on Lake Meredith as a source of supply. The result of this agreement will benefit everyone involved and ensure that CRMWA is able to continue it's supply to Member Cities for generations in the future."
Those cities are: Amarillo, Brownfield, Borger, Lamesa, Levelland, Lubbock, O'Donnell, Pampa, Plainview, Slaton, and Tahoka.
PIckens noted, "This purchase and prior purchases have put roughly 200 million dollars into the Panhandle economy for local ranchers and landowners. The Panhandle now has a reliable local water source they can count on for hundreds of years. This is a classic win-win transaction."
Board member Jim Simms says this should ensure, "water in the Panhandle for the next two or three hundred years."
The grand total is expected to raise water and sewer rates than ten percent in Amarillo which makes up 40 percent of CRMWA. Simms says that number will still be below most comparable sized cities in Texas,.
Members cities can opt to buy in now or they can do so at a later date, but it will cost them more to do so in the future.