Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hays County commissioners considering rainwater initiative

Community Impact Newspaper

January 21, 2014 

Hays County commissioners considered on Jan. 21 the creation of the Hays County Rainwater Initiative fund that could provide county residents with up to $100,000 in loans annually for the installation of rainwater collection systems.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant said he wanted to emphasize the initiative is a loan program, which means the money doled out by the county will have to be repaid.
Under the plan, loans would be repaid along with ad valorem tax, and the term of the loan would not exceed 10 years. As the loans are paid back, the money will go back into a fund that will allow for more loans for more county residents.

“It came from the fact that conservation is something that this county is going to have to be very serious about because in the area we live in, the physical boundaries of Hays County lay within two of the water planning regions for the state of Texas,” Whisenant said. “If Hays County along with our regional members are going to be effective members in and participators in the state water plan, conservation is a very important part of that.”
The initial draft of the rainwater initiative calls for the creation of citizen, technical and financial task groups. These groups will coordinate matters such as primary qualifications for loans, inspection programs, and mortgage and loan requirements.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley said the program would be a welcome addition in Hays County.
“All tools should be brought to the table in trying to address long-term and short-term sustainability of our water resources here in our county, both for the benefit of our residents, our environment and our economy,” he said.
Conley said he would like a rainwater system for irrigation of plants and gardens at his home, but the cost can be prohibitive.

“You look at the expense of that and trying to put away some money to send your kids to college, the challenges that different people have in that situation, those priorities change,” Conley said. “Local government working with the private sector can find a way to make those priorities more appealing and more financially realistic for the citizens we represent.”

The court authorized Whisenant and Conley to continue to develop the process and details related to the Hays County Rainwater Initiative. A more detailed plan will be presented to the court when it is more fully formulated. 

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