Infrastructure investments needed at state water board
Texas 2036 Senior Policy Advisor Jeremy Mazur stressed in testimony on Monday before the Senate Finance Committee the twin needs for greater investments in the state’s water infrastructure and the human infrastructure at the agency tasked with planning for the state’s water needs.
“The agency must be funded to hire and retain qualified staff to keep pace with its growing and increasingly complex responsibilities,” Mazur said. “While Texas 2036 recognizes and supports the across-the-board salary increase in Article IX, we are also supportive of [Texas Water Development Board‘s] exceptional item request to increase staff salaries and agency capacity.”
He added that the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in 2021 gives Texas over $2 billion over the next five years for state revolving funds. “In order to draw down these federal dollars,” Mazur said, “we need to provide a 10% match for the next two years. This is another exceptional item in the board’s [Legislative Appropriations Request] that needs to be addressed. And we need to provide these matching funds in order to draw down these IIJA dollars from D.C.”
Addressing aging, deteriorating water systems
Mazur concluded by communicating Texas 2036’s support for the proposition of increasing water infrastructure funding this session.
“We believe that spending some of this budget surplus on water infrastructure is a wise investment in our future, and I’d like to thank Chairman Perry for his leadership and his work in this arena,” Mazur said. “The problem of aging, deteriorating water systems merits further attention. Each year, we have thousands of boil water notices and thousands of sanitary sewer overflows across this state. On top of this, our aging, deteriorating systems, they leak enough water to fill a major storage reservoir every year.
“Given these challenges, and what we saw happen in Odessa, Laredo, and other cities, Texas 2036 supports the creation of a new water fund to address the problem of aging, deteriorating infrastructure.”