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The Water Update

The Water Update is a collaboration between the Texas Tribune and Texas Water Journal covering key upcoming meetings and events, important personnel moves, and significant developments with regard to water at the Texas Legislature and water agencies.

Cypress Creek in downtown Wimberley

Wednesday, June 28

  • Freshwater Mussel Science Expert Meeting; Texas Water Science Center, 1505 Ferguson Lane, Austin (8 a.m.)

Thursday, June 29

  • Freshwater Mussel Science Expert Meeting; Texas Water Science Center, 1505 Ferguson Lane, Austin, (8 a.m.)
  • San Antonio Water System Board of Directors; 2800 U.S. Highway 281 North, San Antonio (9 a.m.)

Thursday, July 6

  • Texas Water Development Board, Board of Directors Meeting; Stephen F. Austin Bldg., 1700 N. Congress Ave., Room 170, Austin (9:30 a.m.)

Tuesday, July 11

  • Edwards Aquifer Authority, Board of Directors Meeting; 900 E. Quincy, San Antonio (3 p.m.)

85th Texas Legislature — Water Legislation of Note

The following water related bills were vetoed by Gov. Greg Abbott:

HB 2377 by Larson/Perry, relating to the development of brackish groundwater.
Veto Statement (click here to read):

Comments by the Governor:

House Bill 2377 sought to authorize groundwater conservation districts to implement special permitting rules relating to the completion and operation of wells for the withdrawal of brackish groundwater.  The bill’s permitting rules are unduly prescriptive and would create a separate and complex bureaucratic process for the permitting of brackish wells.  The Texas Water Development Board already has significant authority in this area, including the ability to designate brackish groundwater production zones and to approve local water management plans.  While the development of brackish water resources as a potential means of meeting our state’s future water needs is important, House Bill 2377 went about it the wrong way.  The next Legislature should consider a simpler and less bureaucratic way to provide greater access to brackish water.

HB 2378 by Larson/Perry, relating to extensions of an expired permit for the transfer of groundwater from a groundwater conservation district.
Veto Statement (click here to read):

Comments by the Governor:

House Bill 2378 would have essentially mandated that export permits issued by groundwater conservation districts be extended indefinitely.  An indefinite permit hinders the public from participating in the decision-making of the groundwater conservation district.  It does not, however, prevent the groundwater conservation district from changing the terms of the permit unilaterally, a power House Bill 2378 continues to allow these districts to exercise.  Excluding the public, potentially in perpetuity, from the decisions of a groundwater conservation district will reduce transparency and inhibit the district’s ability to respond to changed circumstances over time.  The next Legislature should consider legislation that accomplishes the goals of House Bill 2378 without its defects.

HB 2943 by Larson/Perry, relating to the use of money in the state water pollution control revolving fund.
Veto Statement (click here to read):

Comments by the Governor:

House Bill 2943 makes several changes to the State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund, most of which can be administered without the statutory mandates prescribed by this legislation.  Such statutory mandates are unnecessary and tie the hands of program administrators, impeding the State’s ability to continue the program’s positive impacts on the promotion of quality water.  The bill also lengthens the allowable term of loans made by the program, thus extending the program’s debt liability.  Additionally, while conservation easements can serve a valid purpose, using acquisition of easements is not the best use of this particular fund.

HB 3025 by T. King/Rodriguez, relating to open, uncovered, abandoned, or deteriorated wells.
Veto Statement (click here to read):

Comments by the Governor:

House Bill 3025 would have authorized a groundwater district to determine when a landowner’s well has deteriorated and to compel the landowner to repair the deteriorated well to the district’s satisfaction.  If the landowner does not do so within ten days, the bill authorizes the water district to enter the landowner’s land, repair the well, and send the landowner the bill.  This would give groundwater districts greater discretion to infringe on private property rights and impose costs on landowners.  The legitimate need to repair deteriorated wells should be addressed in a way that provides more protections for landowners.

HB 3987 by Larson/Hinojosa, relating to the authority of the Texas Water Development Board to use the state participation account of the water development fund to provide financial assistance for the development of certain facilities.
Veto Statement (click here to read):

Comments by the Governor:

House Bill 3987 would have created a new state account to provide taxpayer funding for the acquisition and development of certain water facilities.  These facilities are already eligible for state funding under the Texas Water Development Fund II state participation account, provided that they cannot be adequately funded with local resources.  The purpose of that requirement is to ensure that state resources are used in an efficient manner by denying funding for local projects that already have access to sufficient financial resources.  House Bill 3987 exempts desalination and aquifer facility projects from meeting this financial requirement.  Additionally, because current law already authorizes the Texas Water Development Board to provide funding for desalination and aquifer storage and recovery facilities, House Bill 3987 is largely unnecessary.  The next Legislature should seek to promote desalination and aquifer projects more effectively.

SB 1525 by Perry/Larson, relating to studies by the Texas Water Development Board of water needs and availability in this state.
Veto Statement: (click here to read):

Comments by the Governor:

The Texas Water Development Board can perform the study mandated by Senate Bill 1525 with or without this legislation.

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