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Former Marble Falls councilor takes on ‘real crisis’ in new role

Reed Norman

Former Marble Falls City Councilor Reed Norman was recently appointed to serve on the Central Texas Water Coalition Board of Directors. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

Former Marble Falls City Councilor Reed Norman fears dire consequences if Highland Lakes residents fail to correct their poor water habits. He’s now in a position to push for change after being appointed to the Central Texas Water Coalition Board of Directors on July 27.

“I think we’re in a real crisis,” he told DailyTrib.com in an interview about his new role with the nonprofit, which is on a mission to protect the area’s water supply by supporting responsible management and conservation practices.

A lifelong resident of the Highland Lakes, Norman has seen the devastating effects of drought and water mismanagement firsthand.

“When I was here in the early ’70s, I know of places where I swam where it was over my head on the Llano (River),” he said. “Now, you can walk across it in many areas.”

Norman, who was a Marble Falls councilor for the last 10 years but opted not to run for re-election in May, said water issues must be addressed as the Highland Lakes wades into a population and development boom.

“Personally, I feel like water is going to be major moving forward,” he said. “The south side of Marble Falls, for example, is going to be really tough. At a couple of points (as a councilor), I shared with (city) staff that we really need to pump the brakes on development, and it wasn’t because of utilities like building roads out there. It was more to do with water.”

As a coalition board member, Norman will serve as a local voice for conservation.

“Since I grew up in Kingsland, went to high school in Llano, and dated and hung out in Marble Falls and lived here in Marble Falls for so long, I know a bunch of people,” he said. “I feel like I have an avenue to talk to folks. I understand the culture. I understand it because I grew up in it.”

Central Texas Water Coalition officials approached Norman about the board position toward the end of his city councilor tenure this spring. He didn’t hesitate to take the offer.

“I told them, ‘You bet,’” he said. “I have always been an advocate for water. I’ve always had a concern for it. It’s a major issue. When this came up, I was excited.”

Norman sees his new role as a way to educate residents about the impact their activities can have on the area’s water supply, including the use of “straws” by lakeside property owners.

A straw collection system pumps water directly out of a lake. Many are unmetered, meaning the Lower Colorado River Authority, the body that governs the Highland Lakes, has no way of measuring usage.

“I’ve always had a big concern with straws on the lakes,” Norman said. “They’re not being monitored.”

He hopes to encourage all residents to always consider their water consumption, even after heavy rains.

“A lot of times, we conserve water during droughts, and then when it rains and fills all of our lakes up, we go back to stage one (water restrictions) and we keep watering and building,” he said. “That’s no good. We need to look at it as an ongoing issue. We need to be water smart.”

You can learn more about the Central Texas Water Coalition and its mission at a town hall meeting on Aug. 29 at Boat Town Burger Bar, 151 Melodie Lane on Lake LBJ in Kingsland. 

nathan@thepicayune.com