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New Water Development Board Chairman Takes Helm

Gov. Greg Abbott's office on Thursday named Bech Bruun, a current member of the Texas Water Development Board, the board's next chairman. Effective immediately, he replaces Carlos Rubinstein, according to the board.

Bech Bruun, newly appointed chairman of the Texas Water Development Board.

Updated, Thursday, 4:43 p.m.:

Gov. Greg Abbott's office on Thursday named Bech Bruun, a current member of the Texas Water Development Board, the board's next chairman. The board said Thursday that Bruun's appointment is effective immediately and that former board Chairman Carlos Rubinstein will remain on the board until Aug. 31.

Original story:

Carlos Rubinstein, chairman of the Texas Water Development Board, is stepping down after serving in the position for nearly two years.

Rubinstein led the board into a new era after it was handed greater authority over water supply projects by the Legislature. He was appointed to the three-member board by former Gov. Rick Perry in August 2013 in response to a push by lawmakers to shake up the board's structure. A few months after Rubinstein's appointment, voters approved $2 billion from the state's Rainy Day Fund to help pay for water projects such as pipelines and treatment plants.

On Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that Bech Bruun, a current member of the board, is succeeding Rubinstein as chairman. Before joining the board, Bruun served as then-Gov. Rick Perry’s appointments director. Bruun was also the government and customer relations manager for the Brazos River Authority and chief of staff to state Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi.

In an email Tuesday to water development board staff, Rubinstein said he has no immediate plans for the future other than spending time with family.

"I look back at a rewarding, challenging and fulfilling career with a great sense of accomplishment," Rubinstein said in the email.

Ken Kramer, a water policy expert for the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, said in a statement he hopes Gov. Greg Abbott will appoint a strong advocate for water conservation and efficiency to replace the chairman.

"Carlos Rubinstein brought a wealth of experience and knowledge in water issues and a good sense of balance to his tenure as chairman of the Texas Water Development Board," Kramer said. "His leadership will be missed."

Laura Huffman, director of the Nature Conservancy of Texas, said she has confidence in the state water agency moving forward despite the leadership change.

"I think the agency is well on its way to investing dollars that citizens authorized," Huffman said. "They're keeping conservation front and center."

Rubinstein previously served as commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. His retirement from the board is effective Aug. 31.

Disclosure: The Nature Conservancy of Texas is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Texas Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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