April 4, 2023- Texas senators unanimously approved a legislative package Monday April 3rd, that could potentially set aside billions of dollars to acquire new water sources and pay for upgrades to the state’s aging water infrastructure, if approved by voters.
Senate Bill 28 and Senate Joint Resolution 75, authored by Lubbock Republican Charles Perry, would create a new water supply fund administered by the Texas Water Development Board. The funds would pay for new water supply projects, including desalination projects and imports of water from other states . The bill would also set aside money to improve the water infrastructure, especially in rural areas.
Perry has suggested billions would be devoted to the fund if signed into law, but he did not specify how much of that money would go toward new water supply projects versus infrastructure improvements. Together, the dollars would target upgrades for small rural water supply systems at risk of failing and provide a boost to what Perry calls “bold” water supply projects that rely on new technology and may cost more upfront than traditional methods.
Water advocacy groups have estimated that the funds needs to include an initial investment of roughly $3 billion to $5 billion to address the state’s crumbling infrastructure and projected water shortage. Currently 65% of the state remains in a drought.
Part of the legislation being spearheaded by Perry this session would require voter approval, which if passed by voters, could go into effect as early as Jan. 1, 2024. A companion bill to Perry’s, House Bill 10 by state Rep. Tracy King, is currently in the House Natural Resources committee. If the proposals are signed into law, Texas voters will decide during a fall election whether the funds are created.