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CRMWA, Mesa finalize water deal

December 30, 2011

T. Boone Pickens, middle, signs the agreement made between his company Mesa Water and the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority for the purchase of water rights in the Texas Panhandle. Looking on is (left) Robert Stillwell of Mesa Water, (right) Kent Satterwhite of CRMWA; and (back) Joe Knox. PHOTO BY DON RICE

AMARILLO-On Thursday morning, representatives from CRMWA, Mesa Water, and civic leaders from the Texas Panhandle were in attendance for the closing of the $103 million water purchase agreement at the Happy State Bank Building in Amarillo.
Taking part in the official signing were T.Boone Pickens and Robert Stillwell of Mesa Water, CRMWA General Manager Kent Satterwhite, and CRMWA Board President Norman Wright.
Last summer, CRMWA and Mesa Water reached a preliminary agreement in Plainview outlining the purchase of 211,217 surface acres of water rights, primarily located in Roberts County, owned by Pickens and Mesa Water.
The purchase gives CRMWA water rights for over 400,000 acres in the Texas Panhandle. The rights should be enough to ensure water is provided for citizens of the CRMWA communities beyond the year 2100, and involves around four trillion gallons of water. The water comes from the Ogallala Aquifer and lies behind land in Roberts County.
After the Thursday morning signing, Amarillo Mayor Paul Harpole said, “Today’s signing plays a pivotal role for the future of Amarillo and surrounding areas by helping CRMWA to provide water for our communities. This agreement meets the water needs we have for now and the future and allows us to not have to rely on Lake Meredith.”
Wright echoed many of Harpole’s thoughts and added, “I believe this agreement is a good deal for all 11 cities represented by CRMWA and I know all 11 cities will benefit from the deal because towns in the Texas Panhandle cannot continue to develop in the future without water.”
Borger is one of 11 member cities in CRMWA. The other cities are Amarillo, Brownfield, Lamesa, Levelland, Lubbock, O’Donnell, Pampa, Slaton, and Tahoka.
Pickens acquired the rights earlier this decade through his organization in hopes of selling it to other cities across the state. However, after failing to find a buyer, he decided in April to sell it to CRMWA.
According to Satterwhite, the signage concludes over 10 years of negotiations between the two parties, going back to when Pickens formed Mesa Water in an effort to sell the water rights of the area controlled by the organization.
In the decision to sell Mesa Water’s rights to CRMWA, Pickens said, “Let’s make it clear that we are not just giving away these rights but we believe we were able to come up with what is a fair deal and I am glad to see this area have the rights to the water.”
Pickens went on to share about his time growing up and living in the Amarillo area in the past and made the comparison of this agreement to when Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold the rights of legendary baseball player Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1919 and the backlash it has caused the Frazee family in the Boston area even today
Pickens said, “I know if I would’ve sold the water rights to Dallas that for generations to come the Pickens name would have a negative meaning in this area. So I am glad that I won’t make a Babe Ruth type deal and the water rights are where they belong.”
Recently Borger City Manager Eddie Edwards commented on the deal saying that with the signage of this historic deal and the additional construction of production, storage, and distribution piping, the member cities of the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority will further reduce their reliance on Lake Meredith.
“This purchase, coupled with prior purchases of other water rights in the same area, create one of the largest groundwater reserves in Texas,” he said. “It will also protect and preserve for the benefit of the Panhandle residents one of our most precious resources from being depleted and sold to large population centers down state.”
Edwards also said this ensures that the CRMWA will be able to continue to supply water to all of its member cities well past the turn of the next century.

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