The Brief: Oct. 30, 2014

Questions continue to be raised about a giant water pipeline project that would pump roughly 16 billion gallons of groundwater annually from Burleson County to San Antonio.

A cascade aerator is shown at the Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant outside of San Antonio, where the San Antonio Water System maintains an underground storage reservoir.
A cascade aerator is shown at the Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant outside of San Antonio, where the San Antonio Water System maintains an underground storage reservoir.  Gabriel Cristóver Pérez

The Big Conversation

Questions continue to be raised about a giant water pipeline project that would pump roughly 16 billion gallons of groundwater annually from Burleson County to San Antonio. The Tribune's Neena Satija writes:

On the eve of the council's historic vote, emails obtained by The Texas Tribune between a chief contractor for the project and the city's water utility have breathed more life into those objections.

In February, the San Antonio Water System rejected any groundwater pipeline project as too difficult and unnecessary. Weeks later, it reversed course and began advancing the Vista Ridge project.

In between, the utility received emails from Gene Dawson, whose engineering firm is now one of the lead contractors for the project, and who is the main negotiator for the deal. They reveal a businessman adamant about the need to secure enough water, in part to avoid lawn-watering restrictions.

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A spokesman for the city's water system said it would take decades before the city would need all of that water. Meanwhile, he said part of the impetus for the project is to minimize the number of times the city enters into drought stage water restrictions.

A critic said that projects like the Vista Ridge pipeline are incompatible with other water management tools like conservation, which, if successful, reduce demand. The end result would be to make the pipeline even more expensive.

The San Antonio City Council is set to take a vote on the project today.

Disclosure: The San Antonio Water System was a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune in 2012 and 2013. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

The Day Ahead

•    The major-party candidates for Railroad Commission — Democrat Steve Brown and Republican Ryan Sitton — take part in a TribLive conversation at the Austin Club at 8 a.m. We will livestream the event for those unable to make it.

•    GOP gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott casts his ballot at an Austin grocery store at 4:30 p.m., then meets with the press. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis makes four "get out the vote" stops in the Rio Grande Valley, accompanied by U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro.

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Trib Must-Reads

Understanding the Shale Boom, by Jim Malewitz and Ryan Murphy

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Abbott: I'm Winning the Women's Vote, by Morgan Smith

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Elsewhere

Wendy Davis picks up the pace in final days of campaign, Austin American-Statesman

Dallas tax firm a big contributor to front-runner for comptroller, The Dallas Morning News

Mayor's decision to drop subpoenas fails to quell criticism, Houston Chronicle

Ethics commission approves dark money regulation, San Antonio Express-News

In Denton, tension mounts ahead of fracking ban vote, The Dallas Morning News

Nurse's willingness to quarantine saves painful choice, Austin American-Statesman

Fort Bliss soldiers deployed to West Africa to undergo 21-day Ebola quarantine on return, El Paso Times

How Woman Use Fashion to Assert Their Power, The New York Times

Glimpse of Texas’s political future?, The Hill

The Green Monster, Politico

Quote to Note

“Yeah, I think he took a little different approach than I did. He didn’t put his arms around him and hug him like I did.”

— GOP agriculture commissioner candidate Sid Miller on maintaining ties with shock rocker Ted Nugent even after GOP gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott quietly distanced himself from Nugent

Today in TribTalk

Another warning sign for Texas Democrats, by Mark P. Jones

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A One-Day Symposium on the Impact of the Shale Boom on Oct. 31 at the University of Texas San Antonio

•    A Live Post-Election TribCast, featuring Tribune editors and reporters on the election results, on Nov. 5 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick on Nov. 6 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Dec. 4 at The Austin Club