The Texas House approved legislation Wednesday that would use $2 billion to start funding water projects in the state. House Bill 4, by state Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland, would create a water bank that would offer loans for projects like new water reservoirs, pipelines and conservation projects.

“As Mother Nature has reminded us in the last couple of years, we can’t change the weather,” Ritter said at the outset of the hearing, “but with sound science and foresight and planning, we can conserve and develop supply to meet our future demands.”

The bill passed nearly unanimously, with only two votes against it, from state Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, and state Rep. Van Taylor, R-Plano. Now the bill is headed to the Senate.

The bill survived several amendments that would have drastically changed how the water funding will work. One was to remove the requirement that 20 percent of the money goes to conservation. The other would have taken away access to the state’s rainy day funds, effectively gutting the bill.

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Ritter has been pushing for water funding for some time, including the previous legislative session. So how does he feel?

“I’m tired,” he said after the final vote. But “I really feel good.”

Kate Galbraith contributed reporting.

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