New water legislation aims to fix at-risk water systems
Texas 2036 Senior Policy Advisor Jeremy Mazur offered testimony Monday in favor of legislation to develop new water supplies for the state and to fix aging, leaky water infrastructure. The Senate Water, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee passed out Senate Bill 28 and Senate Joint Resolution 75 on unanimous, 9-0 votes.
Here’s Jeremy’s testimony:
Good morning, Mr. Chairman. Members of the committee. My name is Jeremy Mazur. I’m a senior policy advisor for Texas 2036. I’m here in support of the committee substitutes for SB 28 and SJR 75.
These bills create essential funding frameworks for developing new water supplies and fixing at-risk water systems. I have three points to make in support.
- First, these bills will spur the development of new water supplies, such as desalination or water imported from elsewhere for a drought-prone and growing state.
- Second, these bills also address the growing problem of aging, deteriorating and leaking water infrastructure. Beyond the headlines we saw in Laredo and Odessa last year, the data indicates that many of our water systems are either failing or at-risk of failing, and voters have noticed. According to recent Texas 2036 poll, 89% of voters support the Legislature spending some of the surplus to fix aging, deteriorating systems. In addition, another 82% also support using surplus funds to develop new water supplies. These bills squarely address voters concerns.
- The third point I want to make is that I think this committee substitute does a commendable job of authorizing technical assistance for rural communities and those with water loss issues. But that said, I do do recommend considering authorizing the Texas Water Fund to provide technical assistance to all entities eligible to receive assistance from the fund.
I’m supportive of SB 28 and SJR 75. I do have two recommendations for your consideration.
- First, the Legislature has articulated a preference for regionalization across the Texas Water Code. Given this preference, I recommend that the funds be created. The funds created by these bills be structured to incentivize greater regionalization or regional solutions.
- Lastly, the committee substitute for Senate Bill 28 authorizes using the Texas Water Fund for preventing or repairing water main failure. And I agree that aging water mains present a problem, but they’re just one component of water systems. Instead of just water mains, I would recommend that the language be tweaked to contemplate all aging, deteriorating water systems just not mains. Thank you.