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Review the On-Site Wastewater Treatment Program; identify measures
to decentralize state authority and increase local government
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of on-site sewage
facilities (OSSFs) throughout the state. In the last five years
the number of permit applications has more than doubled. There
have also been problems with administering the On-Site Wastewater
Treatment Program (program) at both state and local levels. Other
concerns include serious public health and environmental problems
resulting from failing OSSFs, and the financial inability of low-income
residents to comply with OSSF rules and regulations.
Study methods to provide affordable, state-sponsored financial
assistance for small community water projects.
Ninety percent of all community water systems across the country
found in violation of drinking water regulations in 1991, were
small system. With increased federal requirements and increasing
scarcity of affordable water supplies, Texas' small communities
are facing more formidable challenges than ever before in providing
basic water and wastewater infrastructure.
In addition to these requirements, the unit cost of service for
a small community is typically much higher when compared with
larger cities because of the lack of economies of scale. The
federal government predicts that this cost for smaller communities
will only increase over time. In the past most of these costs
were paid for with federal funds, but much of the federal funding
has been reduced or eliminated in recent years. Although loans
exist to help small communities, accessing "traditional"
water supply and wastewater loan programs has proven to be difficult
due to interest rates being established at levels to ensure self-supporting
Review the design, mission, and goals of the Lower Neches Valley
The Lower Neches Valley Authority (LNVA) is a nonprofit organization
funded entirely by the sale of water and by the services it provides.
It delivers up to a billion gallons a day to cities, industries,
and approximately 100 rice farms on a continuous 24-hours-a-day,
seven-days-a-week basis. The water rates charged by the LNVA
are among the lowest of any river authority in the state for pumped
water. In addition, the LNVA issues bonds to construct industrial
waste treatment facilities and related air improvement facilities,
provides public boat ramp construction on the Neches and Angelina
Rivers, and works in conjunction with Texas Tech University to
determine the feasibility of reestablishing a paddlefish population
in the Lower Neches Basin. The LNVA provides other services to
improve water quality in the region and actively participates
in educational outreach programs to inform the general public
and school children of its purposes and programs.
Study the governance, structure, and functions of the Lower Colorado
River Authority (LCRA), in light of changes in the electric utility
industry and other long-term changes.
LCRA was created to develop a reliable water supply along the
lower Colorado River; to protect the region from floods; and to
provide reliable, low-cost electricity to rural areas. The LCRA's
primary functions are: water and river management; power generation
and energy transmission; soil conversation and water pollution
control; fish and wildlife preservation; parks and recreational
lands management; and community assistance and local economic
Monitor the court action and implementation of the laws from the
73rd and 74the Legislatures relating to the Edwards Aquifer Authority.
The Edwards Aquifer Authority (Authority) was created in 1993
(S.B. 1477) in order to develop and implement programs for comprehensive
management of the Edwards Aquifer and to allow the state to better
regulate its natural resources and to avoid federal control of
the aquifer. Federal courts and agencies posed legal challenges
to the Authority as it was originally created, and as a result
its organizational and managerial structure was changed by Texas
law in 1995 (H.B. 3189) to better conform to federal rulings and
law. The constitutionality of the Act which created the Authority
has since been challenged, but ultimately the courts decided in
favor of the Act. The plan put into action by the Act would reduce
pumping from the Edwards Aquifer during critical periods. The
plan's main objective would be to temporarily reduce demand on
the aquifer in order to reduce the rate of spring flow decline
at Comal Springs until rainfall replenishes the aquifer.
Conduct active oversight of agencies under the committee's jurisdiction.
In January 1996 the House Committee on Natural Resources was charged
with conducting active oversight of agencies under the committee's
jurisdiction. The charge was undertaken by the committee as a
The committee has no specific recommendations at the time of publication
of this report, but will continue to monitor the agencies' activities
with regard to National Pollution Discharge Elimination System
delegation, revisions to the State Water Plan, funding for water-related
programs, and other issues of state and local concern that continue
to pose challenges for the agencies.