Texas Senate passes momentous water legislation
The historic legislation tackles the issues of developing new water supplies in a drought-prone state and fixing aging, deteriorating infrastructure.
The Texas Senate last week passed historic legislation aimed at helping the state meet a surging demand for water and ensure the Texas economy remains a job-creating dynamo in the decades to come.
Senate Bill 28 and Senate Joint Resolution 75, taken together, create two new constitutionally dedicated water funds that would target for repairs the state’s aging, leaky water systems and would expand the state’s water supply through strategies like desalination or water imported from elsewhere.
Both the bill and the resolution passed out of the Senate chamber on unanimous, 31-0 votes. They now go to the Texas House where they are expected to be heard in committee soon.
SJR 75 is a constitutional amendment and, if passed out of the Texas Legislature this session, would go before the voters for their approval in the November constitutional election.
As the numbers demonstrate, the time is now for lawmakers to take action:
- Between now and 2070, demand for water in Texas is forecasted to increase by roughly 9% while the state’s water supply is expected to decrease by 18%, according to a June 2022 report commissioned by Texas 2036.
- Texas water utilities lose at least 572,000 acre-feet of water per year due to leaky, aging pipes and other water infrastructure. That’s more than the amount of water present in a large surface reservoir like Lake Buchanan or Possum Kingdom Lake.
- These measures squarely address voters’ concerns. According to recent Texas 2036 polls, 89% of voters support spending some of this year’s historic state revenue surplus to fix aging, deteriorating systems. In addition, another 82% also support using surplus funds to develop new water supplies.
“We believe that spending some of this budget surplus on water infrastructure is a wise investment in our future, and we appreciate the Senate Water, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and Chairman Charles Perry’s leadership and work in this arena,” Texas 2036 Senior Policy Advisor Jeremy Mazur said. “These bills create essential funding frameworks for developing new water supplies and fixing at-risk water systems.”
The Legislature last passed major water legislation in 2013 when lawmakers and the voters approved legislation to create the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT), which was designed to provide financing for projects in the state water plan.
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