TEXAS WATER DEVELOPMENT BOARD RECOMMENDS UNFUNDED MANDATE ON CITIES
Prior to each legislative session, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is required to provide the Texas Legislature with a “Legislative Priorities Report” outlining the agency’s policy priorities and requests that will be included in the agency’s Legislative Appropriations Request (LAR). In the Legislative Priorities Report to be submitted to the Eighty-Third Legislature, the TWDB included a recommendation to:
Require annual water loss audits from retail public water suppliers that serve 3,300 or more connections. This would involve approximately 335 utilities, and these utilities are already required to provide annual reports on their water conservation plans.
Currently, Section 16.0121(b) of the Texas Water Code requires all Texas retail public water utilities (including municipal water utilities) to perform and file a water loss audit with the TWDB every five years, rather than annually as called for in the recommendation. The next scheduled report is due in May 2016, for the year 2015.
This TWDB recommendation presents an unfunded mandate on Texas cities. The League’s position has been that each city has a unique perspective and resulting priorities for expending resources to save water. Climate, population density, availability of water resources, and the ratio of industrial to residential water use in the city are but a few of the various factors that affect water-related decisions across the state.
The heart of the issue is that while everyone agrees that water conservation is important for Texas, city officials have traditionally resisted the imposition of further state mandates that do not take into account the needs, financial and otherwise, of cities.