With Texas Reservoirs Dropping, State Lawmakers Kill a Water Supply Bill

Categories: Legislature

jack's boots.jpg
Photo by Brandon Thibodeaux
Last night, a bill to fund water projects across the state died an ignominious death in the Texas House of Representatives. This was strange because it looked like the rails had been thoroughly greased. During his State of the State back in January, Gov. Rick Perry made the case for dipping into the normally sacrosanct Rainy Day Fund to the tune of $2 billion for water infrastructure projects -- a move he characterized as vital for attracting businesses to the state.

"What I am proposing will support critical water and transportation systems across our state, addresses our needs both short- and long-term, and ensures both water and traffic will continue to flow in Texas for generations to come," he said at the time.

Yet it came under attack from all sides. Spending fetishists in the Tea Party wing couldn't support it, even though a water crisis could have serious implications for the state's tax base. Democrats wouldn't back it unless it came with increased education spending from the Rainy Day Fund. Republicans threatened sweeping budget cuts if enough votes weren't mustered to pull from the fund. Amendments and points of order were heaped onto the bill until finally it all collapsed.

It can be brought back through committee to the floor for another vote, but there may not be enough time. Perry has threatened to call the legislature into special session if the bill doesn't cross his desk. This map, released yesterday by the Texas Water Development Board, explains why. With 99 percent of the state currently in drought, municipal reservoirs are in rough shape. Statewide, they're 66 percent full. Fort Worth's municipal reservoir system is at its lowest level since they started tracking these numbers in 1990. More than half of the municipal systems are below 50 percent full. In south and west Texas, the picture is particularly grim. In the panhandle, the system serving Amarillo was logged as empty yesterday.

Demographers project the state's population will increase more than 80 percent by 2050. In a state currently stringing together some of the driest years it's ever recorded, it's becoming increasingly clear that current water supplies won't be enough for future generations.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Xeriscape soon to be everywhere except Highland Park, where all the west nile skitters will live due to the excess lawn watering

And how much water is that new golf course that is out of most folks price range gonna use?


This has T. Boone Pickens fingerprints all over it.


cretins.  they think that by sticking their heads in the ground they can strike water.

Change the BOOM cartoon to dehydration.


TWDB didn't start tracking those municipal reservoir numbers until 1990? Seems odd that an agency created in 1957 partly to track this stuff would wait 33 years to do so, doesn't it?


So if the rainy day fund didn't exist, would we still need these projects? Would Legislators have even considered a different funding mechanism? Indeed, knowing that they can tax citizens with impunity prevents all Legislators from thinking realistically about alternatives to either development, expansion, or  taxation. Like it or not folks, all growth, wheter it be economic or population driven, is finite. Seriously, we allow state policies to continue to pave over paradise, overpopulate the state, flood the state with illegals, and then wonder why we have problems with energy shortages and water shortages? To paraphrase a baseball movie 'maybe if we don't build it, they won't come'! Overpopulation, congestion, urban sprawl, crumbling infrastructure, diminishing resources and opportunities, vanishing farm land and green space, overcrowded schools, hospitals and jails, lack of affordable housing, crime, pollution, depressed wages, increased tax burdens are all the result of the poor judgment of our elected officials, who just can't seem to deal with the fact that running out of taxpayers money won't stop us from running out of water or wide open spaces. They aren't making anymore of either of these. Still, the fact remains that too many people competing for the same limited resources and opportunities is NOT, and NEVER WILL BE sane, sustainable social, economic or environmental policy! Just ask any taxpayer in California.

observist topcommenter

Ironic that we're using the rainy day fund for drought relief.


Note to new businesses coming to Texas .

BRING your own WATER  .

ScottsMerkin topcommenter

Hey its Brantley, the no sock loafer wearing dude!


Yet, we have time for loudmouth Greg Abbott to tell cities/counties they cannot offer same-sex benefits for civil employees, this state is headed for a disaster and all he's worried about is keeping his tea-bagger support base, not to mention those same idiots screwing with our future...

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault