Texas House approves bill to set aside billions to upgrade state’s aging water system

(UI) — A bill that was approved by the Texas House on Wednesday by a vote of 136-8 would establish a new fund to kickstart significant water supply projects and repair deteriorating water infrastructure around the state, The Texas Tribune reported.

According to early draft budgets from the House and the Senate, the fund might get between $1 billion and $3 billion to begin with.

The Texas Water Development Board, the state agency for water that frequently serves as a large bank for financing water projects, could use the special Texas Water Fund created by Senate Bill 28, which was passed by the Senate in early April, for water supply projects and improvements to current water infrastructure.

Additionally, it would establish the New Water Supply for Texas Fund, whose goal is to produce 7 million acre-feet of water in Texas over the following ten years, which is more than four times the capacity of Lake Livingston, one of the state's biggest reservoirs.

RELATED: Texas lawmakers prepare to set aside billions to upgrade state’s aging water system

“At some point, what gets the needle moving on big projects and what brings people to the table with solutions is real cash,” Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, said in an interview with The Texas Tribune. “The state has a role to lead, to push and to provide a clear direction that we’re serious.”

The Perry-authored legislation would restrict the use of funds from the New Water Supply for Texas Fund to a select number of initiatives, such as supporting brackish and marine water desalination facilities and importing water from other states. One of the differences between the two chambers' versions of the bill that needs to be resolved before it can be finalized and forwarded to the governor is the addition of aquifer storage, potable reuse projects, or treating wastewater for drinking water, and water loss mitigation projects to that list by the House.

But in a significant shift from prior water planning, those projects would not be required to be included in Texas' statewide water supply plan, which predicts and plans for the state's water demands over a 50-year time horizon.

Typically, the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas, or SWIFT, which issues bonds to offer low-cost financing, is used to finance water delivery improvements. To get financing, projects must be outlined in the state's water strategy.

Some groups are worried that the new fund would work differently from Texas' customary procedure, possibly resulting in less supervision and preparation.

“I just don’t think it makes sense to exempt investments in water supplies from strategies in the state water plan,” Jennifer Walker, director of the Texas Coast and Water Program at the National Wildlife Federation, told The Texas Tribune.

She stated that rather than working inside an existing process that is currently fairly effective, it will take more time, money, and resources from the agency to build a new one.

Although SWIFT is a wonderful program, Perry argued that it hasn't produced the type of significant billion-dollar projects that he believes the state should pursue more vigorously.

Building additional reservoirs is a key component of Texas' current water supply strategy, which Perry has previously criticized for moving too slowly or being unrealistic. According to Perry, the funds would be used to support the beginning of many large-scale, billion-dollar water projects that may supply water to various parts of the state.

“I’m not looking for plans,” Perry told The Texas Tribune. “I’m looking for action.”

This story was originally reported by The Texas Tribune.

Related News

From Archive


{{ error }}
{{ comment.comment.Name }} • {{ comment.timeAgo }}
{{ comment.comment.Text }}