State

Texas Prop 6 tackles state's dwindling water supply

Monday, September 30, 2013

State lawmakers are getting serious about the threat of water shortages across Texas. One more devastating drought could dry up much of the state's water supplies. And it will soon be up to voters to decide how to address the problem.

The mayoral race is grabbing most of the headlines in Houston, but Proposition 6 will also be on the ballot. It would use taxpayer money to fund water projects here in the Bayou City and statewide.

Texas is known for its growth, and that growth means our state will become only more thirsty. It's an issue voters will weigh in on in November as Prop 6.

"We're simply growing so fast and our water needs are growing as a function of the growth and population; 1,200 new citizens a day in the Houston area, and the growth of our economy -- the buildings you're seeing built around town, the petrochemical expansion in the Ship Channel -- all of that requires water," Greater Houston Partnership CEO Bob Harvey said.

The Greater Houston Partnership organized a symposium to discuss the topic among Houston water, developement related organizations.

Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus is in Houston, campaiging for the political action committee Water Texas.

"About almost 90 percent of the state has been affected by this drought, and Houston, at some level, has been as well," Straus said.

Prop 6, Straus says, will pull about $2 billion from the state's Rainy Day Fund to create the State Water Implementation Fund.

SWIFT, as it's called, would then provided low-cost financing for projects identified in the state water plan, in addition to tradtional methods already funding current projects.

"Some water projects do get financed, yes. But nothing in a comprehensive way has been done by the state," Straus said.

As a wholesale water provider, the Houston area has about 12 projects outlined in the state water plan; most are meant to supply growing suburbs.

"We simply need more acre feet of water, and we need to bring that water to where it's most needed. So that's mainly in the growing parts of the city," Harvey said.

Houston is expected to play a huge part in the passage or failure in Prop 6 because the city's mayoral race is expected to create a bigger voter turn out in November over other parts of the state.

Find Erik on Facebook at ABC13ErikBarajas or on Twitter at @ErikBarajas13

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