Nuke plant won't suck Victoria dry, officials say
City to report on water availability at council meet


January 08, 2008

Household taps won't be dispensing dust instead of water in the future if a water-thirsty nuclear plant is built south of Victoria, city officials said Monday.

"I think we're sitting in good shape," said Lynn Short, the city's public works director. "That's not to say we shouldn't be looking for additional water, but the city has done a good job of securing water for the future."

Exelon Corp. is considering building a nuclear plant near McFaddin, and the plant would seek rights to 75,000 acre-feet of Guadalupe River water a year. That's more than seven times the amount of water Victoria uses in a typical year.

But the city staff has researched the issue and has prepared a report for today's city council meeting stating Victoria won't be left high and dry. That meeting will begin at 5 p.m. in the Council Chamber at 107 W. Juan Linn St.

Jerry James, the city's director of environmental services, said the city applied for its river water rights more than a decade ago. The possibility of someone claiming additional water not already spoken for was taken into account then, he said.

"This doesn't change that equation at all," James said.

Council Member Tom Halepaska said if the water isn't used locally to create jobs, someone outside the Guadalupe River basin will scoop it up.

"It will be used in a relatively short period of time - 10 years or less"," he said. "We can import jobs or we can export water, but we can't do both."

The nuclear plant's water rights would be senior to the city's rights, meaning the plant could still take water from the river in a drought when the city couldn't. But Mayor Pro Tem Lewis Neitsch said that's not a big concern.

That's because Victoria has a year's supply of water stored in gravel pits, and it still has water wells that can be used as a backup.

"I don't think we'll have a crisis in the future unless we have 10 years of drought," he said. "There would be more people hurting than just the city of Victoria if we had that type of drought."

Halepaska and Neitsch said they believe Victoria has enough water available to handle the current growth rate for at least another 50 years.

James said he thinks it will last longer than that. "We have enough water available for development well into the next century."

David Tewes is a reporter for the Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6515 or dtewes @, or comment on this story.

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