Sen. Charles Perry needs voter permission to use $2 billion to improve Texas water supply

“You can never have too much water.”
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 7:22 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Texas lawmakers have allocated more than $2 billion to increase and develop the state’s water supply, but this Texas budget has a cap and the legislature must get voters’ permission to use this money.

State Senator Charles Perry has been at the forefront of water policy in Texas for years. In the beginning of the year the High Plains Water District predicted current water levels to drop more than 18 percent over the next 40 years while demand would rise by 9 percent. That’s why Senate Bill 28 and Senate Joint Resolution 75 were created.

“We’re losing about 150 billion gallons of water a year through leaky pipes,” Perry said.

These bills were constitutionally dedicated so that the “bucket” of money specifically dedicated to water supply and water infrastructure will be a permanent fixture in the state budgeting process going forward. The money is coming from a surplus budget and that budget has a cap. Making SJR75 constitutionally dedicated allows the money to be used without a cap, but voters must approve it.

“It literally focuses the legislature to look at water supply going forward,” Perry said.

Together the bills dedicate $2 billion to upgrade Texas’ failing water infrastructure, like the old, worn, pipes under our feet.

“Local jurisdiction small cities specifically don’t have the taxpay to replace pipes in the ground,” Perry said.

Through the new funds, Texas Water Supply and New Water Supply for Texas, there are multiple buckets of money allocated to each project. One of the biggest projects would be to increase our water supply by using untapped resources.

“Marine desalination, we want new input, it’s not currently in the cycle but we would bring it into the cycle, so in the event that we can do that out here we can take a desert back to a green and wet area,” Perry said.

Perry says we would see massive increases in water supply in the region from Amarillo to El Paso.

“You can never have too much water,” Perry said.

If Governor Abbott approves the bill, it will go into effect Sept. 1, but will remain unfunded until voters approve the amendment in November.