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July 29, 1998     (512) 463-0300

LEGISLATORS SEEK WATER SHORTAGE SOLUTIONS

AUSTIN - The Select Interim Committee on Water Resources Development and Management met in Austin on Wednesday, July 29, to continue discussions on the critical issue of water conservation, shortage, and drought. The committee has been traveling the state, visiting cities such as El Paso, Houston, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, and Tyler, while seeking input on the implementation of legislation (Senate Bill 1) passed last session that laid out a statewide water plan.

The committee is co-chaired by Representative Ron Lewis and Senator J.E. "Buster" Brown of Lake Jackson. Members include Representatives Robert Cook, David Counts, Robert Puente, and Gary Walker and Senators Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi, Ken Armbrister of Victoria, Eddie Lucio of Brownsville, and Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio.

Austin's hearing allowed the members to hear testimony on the water situation in central Texas. In addition, the committee heard a comprehensive update on the drought in Texas which is affecting the state's livestock, agricultural situation including cotton and corn crop failures, and high cost of irrigation. The problems have been enhanced due to the fact that the state has yet to recover from the damaging drought of 1996. However, Senate Bill 1 does contain provisions which will help the state prepare for such droughts in the future.

The committee heard invited testimony on local water issues from concerned citizens who are experiencing drought and water shortage problems. The meeting continued with state agency personnel testimony on the implementation of Senate Bill 1. Among those testifying were representatives from the Texas Water Development Board and the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission., agencies which are responsible for putting the bill's specifications into action by enforcing the rules, distringuishing the regions, and setting up regional planning groups. Public testiony mony followed.

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