Friday, July 29, 2005

Population, Industry, and Water

One of the concerns voiced by the opponents of the private prison project is water. At the figures they were given of up to 115 gallons per prisoner per day, that is a water usage rate of 69,000 gallons per day or 2,5185,000 gallons per year for phase one, which is 600 prisoners. That's a lot of water, and should be looked at, but it must be looked at in terms of the overall size, economic health, and growth rate of the area.

San Angelo had a population of about 89,000 in the 2000 census. With the growth rate we had in the previous decade (a little over 5% per decade) we would be at about 91,500 today. If we have started growing at the rate of the rest of the state, we could be at about 98,000 today. According to the water department, people in San Angelo use about 150 gallons per person per day. Using the low estimate of 91,500 for the population that's 13,725,000 gallons per day or 5,009,625,000 per year. Normal growth for San Angelo should be in the 500 to 2000 people per year range.

San Angelo and the surrounding communities are trying to attract companies and jobs. They have given incentives to companies providing as few as 5 and as many as 2000 jobs. Most people realize that San Angelo must grow, both in population and in jobs. That means that the water system must be able to handle the growth. The City Council has been planning on this for a while. They have 2 water studies in progress to secure a stable long term water source that fits in with the hoped for growth of the area. If we can't absorb the water use of a 600 to 2000 bed prison, then we can't have any more growth at all. Regular growth will add the equivalent of a 600 bed prison every year.

I am not a fan of the prison project. I don't think it is good for the area. Like any other business, though, the issues need to be put in perspective. Realistically, we are not going to get a business of the size of the prison that uses less water. That's just part of any business.

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