Gov. Perry signs legislation to fund water development projects - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Gov. Perry signs legislation to fund water development projects

Amarillo, TX - Over the next fifty years, our state's population is expected to double - but our water supply isn't.  In fact, the Texas Water Development Board predicts that by 2060, fully half of all Texans will not have adequate access to water under extreme drought conditions like what we experienced two years ago.

That means water shortages in Texas are predicted to become more and more common as the state's population grows.  And state lawmakers and water authorities are working to address the issue now before it becomes a problem later.

On the last day of the 83rd legislative session, Governor Rick Perry signed House Bill 4, which creates a funding mechanism for the water development board.

Although the state already funds some of the board's water projects, the new system would provide consistency in funding.

TWDB Executive Administrator Melanie Callahan says that consistency would be invaluable in planning and implementing new plans and projects.

"If they were in the state water plan, for example, we could fund them if they were for water strategies," explains Callahan.  "The problem being we had to fight for general revenue every biennium, so the amount we had available varied drastically from biennium to biennium."

Initially, $2 billion will be taken from the state's Rainy Day Fund to provide low-interest loans for conservation efforts and water projects designed to make another 9 million acre-feet of water available for use.  An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons.

"Water is an essential part of everyone's life," said Governor Perry in a statement.  "It is ensuring that those adequate supplies are available. It means better jobs, it means stronger communities, it means healthier families for decades to come."

Critics of the bill said a the $2 billion dollar transfer of funds would count against the state's spending cap, which in essence limits the size and scope of government.  Some also raised concerns that the plan did not dedicate enough money to conservation and reuse efforts.

Even though Mister Perry has already signed the bill, enacting it into law would necessitate a resolution to make an amendment to the state's constitution, which requires voter approval.  That resolution was unanimously approved by both the House and the Senate.

If you'd like to learn more about the bill or the resolution to amend our constitution, follow the links attached to this story.

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