Karl Dreher, the general manager for the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA), has been placed on paid administrative leave. An EAA spokesperson confirmed the news today to StateImpact Texas, which was first reported in the San Antonio Express-News.
The Authority manages the groundwater district of the Edwards Aquifer, which includes San Antonio and many of the surrounding counties, producing drinking water for more than 2 million people in Central Texas.
It isn’t clear why Dreher was placed on administrative leave. Assistant General Manager for Communications & External Affairs Roland Ruiz said that “as a personnel matter, there is no statement other than to confirm that the action did occur.” Ruiz also confirmed that Dreher was placed on leave by Laura Buckner, chair of the EAA board of directors. He says the decision will be taken up by the board at its next meeting June 12.
The Authority lost a decision in the Texas Supreme Court earlier this year, Edwards Aquifer Authority V. Burrell Day and Joel McDaniel. The ruling found that the Authority could compensate ranchers Day and McDaniel for groundwater regulations that limited the amount of groundwater the two landowners pulled from their land. The Authority had argued that allowing compensation could open the floodgates to a wave of litigation from other landowners in similar cases. You can read more on that case in our earlier report, What the Supreme Court Ruling on Water Rights Means for Texas.
Dreher was appointed general manger of the Authority in early 2010. Previously he was a director of water resources for Idaho and consulted on groundwater disputes in the Republican River Basin.