-Water Regulation and Conservation-
There were a wide variety of water bills this session, mostly dealing with groundwater. We were successful in maintaining the rights and ownership of groundwater and maintain local control in regards to how things are managed. The list below details the variety of bills we were engaged in this session and the outcome of these bills.
HB 30 by Rep Lyle Larson & Senator Charles Perry – Sent to the Governor
Requires Texas Water Development Board to identify and designate
Brackish Groundwater Production Zones. These zones are areas that are
conducive to desalination projects. The bill was amended to remove all the regulatory provisions from the bill.
Repeals the appeal of a Desired Future Condition to the Texas Water Development Board.
Allows a private groundwater user to request that their withdrawal data be kept confidential.
Establishes the authority of TCEQ to permit aquifer storage and recovery (ARS) projects.
Repealed the “junior water rights” provision on interbasin transfer permits.
Requires the TWDB to conduct a comprehensive study of the state’s aquifers.
Defines the process and procedures TCEQ must use before declaring a stream navigable.
Allows a power generator to delay the curtailment groundwater production
from wells used for power generation or mining to protect the public
health and safety or electric reliability.
Protects Groundwater Conservation District Board members from being sued personally for decisions made as a board member.
Requires TWDB to study how to construct and operate a statewide water “grid.”
Made several amendments to the permitting process of an interbasin
transfer of surface water, including a repeal of the “junior water
rights” provision to protect the basin of origin.
Requires a groundwater conservation district to “consider” regulating
the production of groundwater by retail public utilities based on the
service needs or area served by the utility.
Streamlines the permitting of desalination projects for industrial use.
Recognizes the “common law” property rights in groundwater.
Requires one member of the Texas Water Development Board be a person who actively participates in agricultural production.
Places the state’s river authorities under a performance review by the Sunset Advisory Commission.
Allow groundwater permits to automatically renew as long as there has not been a change in aquifer conditions or production under the permit.
Proposition 6 Update (2013 - 2014)
In 2013, the Texas Legislature authorized transferring $2 billion from the state's "Rainy Day Fund" to create a new loan program, later approved by Texas voters, to fund projects in the state water plan. The funds available through SWIFT will help Texas communities of all sizes—from small rural towns to large metropolitan areas—develop drought-proof water supplies. Projects range from conservation and reuse, to desalting groundwater and seawater, to building new pipelines and developing reservoirs and well fields, to many more.
SWIFT Information - Texas Water Development Board
August 1, 2011
S.B. 332, “Groundwater Ownership” was a very important initiative this session. Groundwater is an integral part of the land that is owned by private landowners. STPRA signed on in support of the “Groundwater Ownership” group led by the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA), the Texas Wildlife Association (TWA) and the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB). S.B. 332 established that groundwater below the surface is the “real property” of the landowner and that the landowner has the right to produce water below the surface. The groundwater authorities still have the responsibility to regulate groundwater production to insure that landowners’ rights are protected.
Governor Perry signed the bill June 17, 2011. It went into effective September 1, 2011. STPRA believes that S.B. 332 is a major victory for landowners.