HOUSE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES RELEASES INTERIM REPORT

The following is a brief summary of the House Committee on Natural Resources interim report, which is available online at http://www.house.state.tx.us/committees/reports/.

The report reviewed the five interim charges of the committee and made recommendations for four of the five charges.  Some excerpts from the report follow:

Charge 1.  Monitor the ongoing statewide drought and the performance of state, regional, and local entities in addressing it. Examine the impact of the drought on the State Water Plan, including an evaluation of how well the state's existing water resources can meet demand, the need for additional funding sources to implement the plan, and the effectiveness of current drought planning and drought management policies. Identify short-term and long-term strategies to help the state better cope with drought and assess any obstacles, including state and federal regulations, to implementation of these strategies.

Selected recommendations:

  • State Water Plan Funding.  Provide for the establishment of a dedicated fund and funding source for the implementation of the State Water Plan in order to offer meaningful funding alternatives and incentives to local entities.
  • Drought Planning.  Continue to monitor the performance of state, regional, and local entities in addressing current and future drought conditions, as well as planning to meet the growing demand on existing water supplies and to find ways to exceed current water resource availability. 
  • Drought Management.  Further evaluate drought contingency plans to consider including consistent statewide drought stages and other baseline standards.
  • Strategies for Managing Future Droughts.  Define appropriate conservation measures for state water planning and funding. Clarify that conservation measures should be longstanding goals implemented not only during times of drought, but also as daily best management practices.

Charge 3.  Evaluate the status of desalination projects in Texas. Include an evaluation of the regulation of brackish groundwater and whether opportunities exist to facilitate better utilization of this groundwater to meet future needs.

Selected recommendations:

  • Pilot Studies and Permitting.  Consider the effectiveness of pilot studies and testing requirements in the development of desalination projects.
  • Local and Regional Planning.  Encourage local and regional entities to further consider desalination as an available alternative water supply to meet immediate demands, especially in times of drought.
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