fbpx
Connect with us

Texas News

Texas lawmakers allocated more than $2 billion to increase the state’s water supply and reduce flooding

Published

on

Texas lawmakers allocated more than $2 billion to increase the state's water supply and reduce flooding

Texas lawmakers allocated more than $2 billion to increase the state's water supply and reduce flooding” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Sign up for The Brief, The Texas Tribune's daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas .


During this year's legislative session, Texas lawmakers allocated part of the state's historic $32.7 billion surplus toward better protecting the state against droughts and floods — an investment that followed one of the hottest summers on record and the worst drought in a decade.

Advertisement

Climate change has brought higher temperatures to Texas that accelerate evaporation rates from reservoirs and dry soil more quickly, meaning less water flows into rivers and streams. At the same time, rising temperatures and warmer oceans — which increase the amount of water in the air — increase the risk of extreme rainfall in Texas.

Significant flooding and extreme rain events are more frequently following droughts, according to the Fourth National Climate Assessment.

What did the Legislature change?

Texas lawmakers allocated more than $2 billion this year to increase water supplies, fix failing water infrastructure and prevent flooding.

One billion dollars of the state's surplus money during this budget cycle will go toward water supply and water infrastructure projects, if voters approve the idea this fall. Lawmakers also created new funds — the New Water Supply for Texas Fund and the Texas Water Fund — that specify how to allocate that money.

The Legislature also allocated $125 million to match federal water infrastructure money — meaning Texas agencies will be able to unlock more than $750 million from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The money will be used for a host of projects, such as replacing lead water pipes and removing water contamination from drinking water systems.

Advertisement

Another roughly $1 billion will go toward flood prevention. Lawmakers allocated $550 million of the surplus for coastal barrier projects and the “Ike Dike,” a huge gate system proposed for the mouth of Bay to protect the Houston area from hurricane storm surges. Another $625 million of surplus money will go toward Texas' Flood Infrastructure Fund to finance flood prevention projects included in the state's first flood plan.

Who is affected?

Texans across the state are affected by declining water supplies, water infrastructure disruptions and flooding in their communities.

Leaky pipes and old treatment plants stressed by dwindling supply, more demand and extreme weather events prompt frequent alerts to boil water or avoid using it altogether. Power outages can also prompt such alerts (almost 15 million people had their water supply disrupted during the 2021 winter storm). And droughts can lead utilities to direct customers to cut back on water usage. For example, hundreds of utilities asked customers to cut back on water use last summer.

Texans are also no stranger to the devastating impacts of floods. Hurricane Harvey caused $125 billion in damage, making it one of the most expensive storms in U.S. history. The damaged homes of many survivors have still not yet been elevated, rebuilt or repaired. Harris County, which includes Houston, has seen seven federally declared disasters due to severe weather in the last decade alone.

Who influenced the outcome?

State Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, has for years spearheaded water policy in the Legislature, and this year was no exception. He was largely responsible for the terms and passage of Senate Bill 28 and Senate Joint Resolution 75, which together will create the Texas Water Fund and the New Water Supply for Texas Fund.

Advertisement

In the House, a bipartisan group of representatives created a new Texas House Water Caucus this year. It includes 38 House members and was led by state Rep. Tracy King, D-Batesville, who carried water legislation in the House this year.

Several groups, including the Texas Water Conservation Association, the National Wildlife Federation and the Texas Water Foundation, advocated for investment in Texas' water infrastructure.

How much will it cost Texans?

The $1 billion allocated toward water supply and water infrastructure, the $125 million to draw down federal water infrastructure money, and the more than $1 billion for the “Ike Dike” and other flood prevention projects will be funded by Texas' $32.7 billion surplus.

Although a huge investment, both the money for water infrastructure and flood mitigation represent a drop in the bucket compared to the state's needs. For example, Texas probably needs more than $38 billion just to get started on flood prevention, according to early proposals for a statewide flood plan still in development.

What alternatives were considered?

The House attempted to ensure that part of the $1 billion for water infrastructure would be prioritized for economically distressed areas, including colonias, which are small communities primarily on the Texas-Mexico border.

Advertisement

But that proposal was rejected by senators negotiating the final language of the bills — a huge loss for people living in colonias, which frequently lack basic services such as water and sewage. An estimated 2,300 colonias exist along the borderlands in El Paso, Hidalgo, Maverick, Starr, Webb and Cameron counties.

Texas senators wanted to limit uses of the New Water Supply for Texas Fund to financing desalination plants, projects to import water from other states, and produced water treatment facilities. House members wanted to give the Texas Water Development Board, which will manage the funds, more flexibility in how it will allocate the $1 billion. The final language leaves out importing water from other states and adds aquifer storage to the list, but it doesn't preclude the agency from allocating the money to other types of projects.

Lawmakers had floated allocating as much as $3 billion toward the water supply and water infrastructure funds, but budget negotiators ultimately landed on $1 billion.

What's next? 

Texas voters will have a chance to approve or reject allocating the $1 billion and creating the Texas Water Fund in November through a constitutional amendment. If voters approve, the fund will be created Jan. 1, 2024.

The New Water Supply For Texas Fund will take effect Sept. 1 if the governor allows the law to go into effect, but it will remain unfunded unless voters approve the constitutional amendment.

Advertisement

Money for flood mitigation projects are tied to the state budget: Comptroller Glenn Hegar has to certify that the budget is balanced, as required by the state constitution. Then, Gov. Greg Abbott has until June 18 to strike any spending lines from the budget.

The first state flood plan, which will dictate what projects are prioritized for flood mitigation money, is due to the Legislature in September 2024.

Alejandra Martinez contributed to this story.

Disclosure: The Texas Water Foundation has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.


Stories like the one you just read come to life at The Texas Tribune Festival, the Tribune's annual celebration of big, bold ideas happening Sept. 21-23 in downtown Austin. For just a little bit longer you can grab a discounted ticket to this year's event, but act fast — savings end on May 31! Buy now and save.

Advertisement

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2023/06/01/texas-legislature-water-supply-flood-funding-infrastructure/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

Did you miss our previous article…
https://www.galvestontrendingnews.com/?p=355

Advertisement

Texas News

Jason Robertson Powers Stars Over Oilers 5-3 for Lead in Western Conference Final

Published

on

www.wbap.com – – 2024-05-27 23:11:06

SUMMARY: On May 27, 2024, Jason Robertson achieved his first career playoff hat trick as the Dallas Stars defeated the Edmonton Oilers 5-3, leading 2-1 in the NHL’s Western Conference final. Wyatt Johnston and Miro Heiskanen, with an empty-net goal, scored for Dallas, while goalie Jake Oettinger made 26 saves. Roope Hintz, Tyler Seguin, and Jamie Benn each provided two assists. For Edmonton, Connor McDavid scored a goal and an assist, reaching 100 career playoff points, with Zach Hyman and Adam Henrique also scoring. Goalie Stuart Skinner made 17 stops for Edmonton. (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Read the full article

The post Jason Robertson Powers Stars Over Oilers 5-3 for Lead in Western Conference Final appeared first on www.wbap.com

Continue Reading

Texas News

Netanyahu Says Deadly Israeli Strike in Rafah Was the Result of a ‘Tragic Mistake’

Published

on

www.wbap.com – – 2024-05-27 22:20:28

SUMMARY: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted a “tragic mistake” in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza, which ignited a tent camp housing displaced Palestinians, killing at least 45 people. Initially, the military claimed a precise strike on a Hamas compound, killing two senior militants. Upon revealing civilian casualties, the military opened an investigation. This incident has intensified international criticism of Israel amidst its conflict with Hamas. The strike occurred on Sunday and further details are being examined. (The Associated Press, 2024)

Read the full article

The post Netanyahu Says Deadly Israeli Strike in Rafah Was the Result of a ‘Tragic Mistake’ appeared first on www.wbap.com

Continue Reading

Texas News

Memorial Day safety: 4-year-old found unresponsive in pool at apartment on Greenhouse Road in west Harris County, HCSO says

Published

on

abc13.com – Shannon Ryan – 2024-05-27 21:05:01

SUMMARY: A 4-year-old child was rushed to the hospital after being found unresponsive in a pool at an apartment complex in west Harris County, Houston, on Monday evening. Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to the scene on Greenhouse Road after receiving a drowning call around 7:23 p.m. The child, who was with family members, went underwater while about 15 to 20 people were in the pool. EMS crews provided CPR and transported the child to the hospital. An investigation is ongoing to determine the circumstances. Follow Shannon Ryan for updates on this developing story.

Read the full article

The post Memorial Day safety: 4-year-old found unresponsive in pool at apartment on Greenhouse Road in west Harris County, HCSO says appeared first on abc13.com

Continue Reading

News from the South

Trending