Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Water Bill Includes Historic Increase in Funding for Conservation
But House Rejects Amendment to Limit Environmental Damage from New Reservoirs
Today the Texas House of Representatives adopted HB 4, which establishes a new water infrastructure fund to provide state assistance to water providers seeking to build new reservoirs, pipelines, and other supply projects. The bill sets aside 20% of funding for conservation and re-use projects. If companion bill HB 11, which transfers $2 billion from the rainy day fund to the new water fund, also passes, at least $400 million will go toward conservation and re-use. The fund is expected to grow over time, so ultimately billions could go toward conservation in the coming decades.
The House voted 104 – 41 against an amendment by Rep. Phil King to weaken the 20% set aside for conservation.
Rep. Eddie Lucio III disappointingly led a successful effort to defeat an amendment by Rep. Donna Howard to require the water board to consider environmental impacts – among five others already in the bill – as a factor in choosing which projects to fund.
Statement by Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger
In every sector of water use, new technologies and better management practices can enable us to get more out of a gallon of water. We can’t control when it rains, but we can control how we use water. State funding can help cut water waste, improve water conservation, and steer Texas toward a more sustainable water future.
We applaud the House for rejecting an effort to gut funding for water conservation. Thanks especially to Rep. Doug Miller, Jim Keffer and Lyle Larson for speaking out against the King amendment.
We are very disappointed that the House voted against directing the water board to consider environmental impacts in their funding decisions. New reservoirs, pipelines and desalination projects can cause major harm to our rivers, our forests and our bays and estuaries. It’s irresponsible not to consider these impacts when deciding which projects to back with state money.
Environment Texas is a statewide, citizen-funded, non-profit advocate for clean air, clean water and open spaces.