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WATER FOR THE FUTURE:
GETTING OUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT

When Texans look to the future they see a growing population with an ever increasing thirst. Texas legislators several years ago created a state water planning process to address these needs and last fall Texas voters approved a state constitutional amendment to help pay for the plan’s many water supply projects.

That was the easy part.

Now, officials have to decide which water supply projects will be funded first -- and we all have a voice in this important process.

The 16 regional water planning groups that helped the Texas Water Development Board craft the 2012 State Water Plan proposed 562 water supply projects, such as reservoirs and pipelines. Those projects would carry an estimated total cost of about $53 billion. Proposition 6, approved by voters in November, amended the Texas Constitution to allow for the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund with $2 billion budgeted to pay for the plan’s projects. These funds will act as “seed money” for loans to help pay a project’s costs. As the loans are paid back, the replenished pool of money could be used to provide additional funding for other projects.

Certainly each region sees its water supply needs as vital, so which projects will go first? The answer will be developed during a two-pronged process currently underway.

First, representatives of the 16 regional planning groups developed uniform standards for which types of projects will get priority. These standards include a project’s date of need along with its viability, sustainability, cost-effectiveness and feasibility.

The other part of the process calls for direct involvement by the general public. Those who wish to help craft the priority list are first asked to look at the TWDB’s list of issues needing stakeholder input, which you can find here. Throughout the coming year, the board will be holding hearings and stakeholder meetings and the public is encouraged to attend and give their opinion about the preliminary issue list or related matters. People can also attend regular regional planning group meetings around the state.

Here are a few projects to consider in the 2012 state plan that could help meet the Brazos basin’s water needs:

  • Allens Creek Reservoir, west of Houston, would provide up to 99,650 acre-feet of water annually by 2060.

  • Post Reservoir, located near the Garza County community of the same name would provide 27,720 acre-feet of water per year once it is completed in 2030.

  • The Cedar Ridge Reservoir, along the Clear Fork of the Brazos in Throckmorton County, would add 23,380 acre-feet each year to state water supplies by 2020.

  • Lake Belton to Stillhouse Hollow Pipeline would provide 30,000 acre-feet per year of water starting in 2020.

  • Four off-channel reservoirs in Brazoria and Fort Bend Counties would collectively provide up to 131,243 acre-feet per year of water in 2060.

Enacting a plan to meet the future water needs of the people of Texas is a tremendous task, but the input from the public and the steady work of state officials, we will get the job done. To learn more about the process, please click here.