Fraser Files Legislation to Tackle Water Needs
Austin — Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) filed three bills that will allow Texas to meet future water needs that come from continued growth.
"We must keep up with the population growth and the resulting increased demand on our state's limited water supply," said Fraser. "We need to start planning for that growth so that people continue moving to Texas."
The population of the state is expected to almost double in 50 years. The demand for water is expected to reach 21.6 million acre feet by 2060, up 27 percent from 2000 while existing water supplies - including surface water, groundwater and reused water - are projected to decrease about 10 percent by 2060.
"Compounding the increased demand, most of our state has been facing a severe drought since 2011," stated Fraser. "As of this month, 96% of the state is currently experiencing some level of drought and reservoirs are only 67% full."
These bills present a three pronged attack to tackle the state's water needs. The bills would provide a $2 billion infusion of funding, restructure the Texas Water Development Board, and authorize local entities to form regional partnerships to solve regional water needs.
"We need to enhance existing water resources and promote water conservation measures across the state," continued Fraser. "I think this package of bills will help the state and local entities to not only create new water but to work harder to reuse and conserve the water we already have."
Senate Bill 4, filed Wednesday January 23, would create the State Water Implementation Fund of Texas (SWIFT) to provide a revolving fund to finance projects in the state water plan. At least 10 percent of the financing would be set aside for water conservation or reuse projects and another 10 percent would be set aside for projects in rural Texas. It would reorganize Texas Water Development Board and require it to prioritize projects in each regional planning area.
Senate Bill 22, filed Thursday January 17, would make a one-time allocation of $2 billion from the state's Economic Stabilization Fund to capitalize the SWIFT.
Senate Bill 235, filed Wednesday January 23, would statutorily authorize local governments to form regional authorities to finance water projects.
"The state and local entities need to work together to help solve our water supply problems," Fraser stated. "Whether we build new reservoirs, conserve, or reuse the water, Texans are resourceful. We will find solutions which allow us to maintain an adequate supply to sustain and grow our economy."