Water Resources Committee Looks at Riverbeds
The Texas Joint Committee on Water Resources heard from people who have a deep interest in how Texas coasts and creekbeds are treated. Local water resource management has been a controversial topic in Texas since the frontier days and the legislators know that this is one thing that hasn't changed over the years.
Regarding environmental and wildlife water permitting and development, the committee heard from three panels on February 27, 2002. The panels represented state regulators, local water authorities and end users of the natural resource. The state regulators briefed the committee on how the permitting process affects wildlife. Margaret Hoffman of the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission told the committee that wildlife considerations and how the water can be best used are both important factors in how permits to use water are granted. Larry McKinney of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department testified about how his agency monitors fresh water flows into the bays along the Texas coast and how that fresh water flow helps to maintain sea life.
One thread through this and the remaining testimony was about balance. There is a question of the commercial use of water versus how much water is needed for the Gulf Coast estuaries and wildlife inland. Another challenge is the balance of rural versus urban uses of water. The committee will be examining a number of water issues during the spring and summer and will issue a report for the 78th Legislature this fall recommending what new water legislation will need to be passed during the session next spring.
The Joint Committee on Water Resources is made up of three Senators and three representatives. Senator J.E. "Buster" Brown and Representative Davis Counts co-chair the committee. Members include Senators David Bernsen and Teel Bivins, along with Representatives Robby Cook and Robert Puente.