HRI Seminar Series - James Dodson
Conference Center 127
6300 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, TX 78412
"Managing Water Resources in the Coastal Bend of Texas – A Delicate Balancing Act Between the Regional Economy and Environmental Protection"
JAMES A. DODSON
WATER AND COASTAL RESOURCES CONSULTANT
PRINCIPAL/OWNER, GROUNDSWELL TX
The Nueces-Frio River watershed in South Texas includes an area which once went by the name “the Wild Horse Desert.” Water supplies -- largely, the lack thereof -- is a constant concern in the Coastal Bend region and have historically been used to meet personal, residential, commercial, and industrial needs. The water needs of the environment – in-stream flows and bay/estuary inflows -- were largely ignored until around 1990, when an environmental group sued the City of Corpus Christi over its failure to implement a “special provision” of the City of Corpus Christi’s 1984 water right for Choke Canyon Reservoir – a provision which required the City of Corpus Christi to provide minimum freshwater inflows for the Nueces Bay/Estuary System. This led to the creation of a planning and adaptive management program – the Nueces Estuary Advisory Council – which used science and stakeholder input to fashion freshwater inflow (FWI) operating plans to balance environmental and human needs for freshwater. However, while there were at least four iterations of the plan in the first fifteen years, there have been no changes to the plan in the last seventeen -- even though the numerous new FWI studies developed under Texas’ Senate Bill 3 (2007) process have provided information which could guide further refinement of the Nueces Estuary freshwater inflow operating plan. This presentation will describe how the region might achieve the elusive “balancing act” between rapidly growing water demands of an expanding economy and protection of the environmental resources of the Nueces-Corpus Christi Bay System.
Mr. Dodson received his B.S. in Marine Science from Texas A&M University at Galveston (1975) and a Masters in Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin (1978). He has worked in coastal and water resources policy, planning and management at the university, local, state, and federal levels, and in private practice as a water and coastal resources consultant. In the 1990’s, Mr. Dodson worked extensively on environmental issues related to water supply planning and development in the Coastal Bend, leading efforts to develop a consensus-based program to assure that the freshwater inflow needs of the Nueces Estuary would be met. Later, as Deputy Executive Director for the Nueces River Authority, he managed development of the first Senate Bill 1 Regional Water Plan for the Coastal Bend (Region N) Regional Water Planning Group and a Texas Water Development Board funded study of seawater desalination options for Texas. Since 2002, Mr. Dodson has consulted on various water and coastal resources projects and helped establish the San Antonio Bay Partnership (SABP) serving as its Program Facilitator/Project Manager since inception. He has taught graduate seminar courses on water resources management, water conservation and environmental flows at TAMU-CC and has been a Fellow of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University since 2018.