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May 13, 1998     (512) 463-0300

LEGISLATORS DISCUSS TEXAS' FUTURE WATER NEEDS

ORANGE - The Senate Interim Committee on Water Resources Development and Management was called to order at Lamar University, Orange Student Center by co-chairs Senator J.E. "Buster" Brown of Lake Jackson and Representative Ron Lewis of Mauriceville. Other members of the committee include Ken Armbrister of Victoria, Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi, Eddie Lucio of Brownsville, and Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio. The interim committee has been conducting hearings around the state to hear testimony regarding Texas' water needs.

Co-Chair Lewis opened the hearing with comments on the water situation in his region and statewide. The committee was welcomed to Orange by Mayor Essie Bellfield. Invited testimony came from Sam Collins, general manager of the Sabine River Authority who addressed the issues of interbasin transfers and current and projected water supply in the Sabine River Basin. Ron Sibler cautioned the committee to consider possible adverse environmental impacts on the basin of origin when making decisions regarding interbasin transfers and the need to adequately fund research needed to quantify such impacts. John Johnson, aide to Jefferson County Judge Griffin spoke in strong opposition to the idea of any interbasin transfers to Houston out of the Sabine River Basin. Mr. Johnson also questioned the accuracy of population projections used by the Texas Water Development Board. Dr. Tommy Knowles of Texas Water Development Board testified on options available to southeast Texas to turn their excess water supply to their advantage. Former Jefferson County Judge LeBlanc spoke in opposition of interbasin transfers. His testimony was followed by further public testimony.

The committee will make recommendations to the 76th Legislature which convenes in January, 1999.

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