On Wednesday Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst announced the formation of the Senate Select Committee on Water Policy. The committee will study issues regarding Texas’ management and policy concerning ground and surface water resources.
Senator Ken Armbrister was named chairman of the committee. Senator Kip Averitt, Senator Bob Deuell, Senator Robert Duncan, Senator Troy Fraser, Senator Jon Lindsay, Senator Eddie Lucio, Senator Frank Madla, Senator Eliot Shapleigh, Senator Todd Staples, and Senator Tommy Williams were appointed to the committee.
Lt. Gov. Dewhurst also announced a Subcommittee on the Lease of State Water Rights. The subcommittee’s overriding charge will be to study proposals regarding the lease of permanent school fund and permanent university lands and their water rights for the intent of developing and marketing water. Senator Madla will serve as chairman of the subcommittee and Senator Duncan, Senator Fraser, Senator Lucio, and Senator Shapleigh were appointed as members.
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“Ensuring that we have a plentiful supply of water in Texas, not just today but in the future, is critical to our quality of life, our economy, and our environment, said Lt. Gov. Dewhurst. “In order to meet our water needs tomorrow, I believe that we must address the way we manage our water resources, and identify solutions for securing and distributing water in the future.”
Among the select committee’s specific charges as they relate to the management and policy concerning ground and surface water are: the role of federal, state, regional, and local governments in setting consistent water policies; the authority of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality over water contracts; the role of the Edwards Aquifer Authority; the role of groundwater conservation districts; the regional water planning process; the conjunctive use of both ground and surface water resources; the rule of capture; historic use standards; water infrastructure and financing; inter basin transfers; junior water rights; conservation; water quality standards; drought preparedness and water marketing.
In an effort to ensure an abundant water supply for the future, the select committee will also monitor the on-going desalination projects by the Texas Water Development Board, to determine how desalination can provide for a cost-effective water source for Texas cities.