Proposition 6 targets projects in 50-year water plan

Posted Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Texas has compiled plans for managing and meeting its statewide water needs since at least as far back as 1961, but the Legislature has never stepped up in a major way to help fund water supply projects.

That will change if voters approve Proposition 6 on the Nov. 5 constitutional amendment ballot. Early voting starts Monday.

The proposal described in Proposition 6 would combine $2 billion from the state’s rainy-day savings account with $6 billion in bonds already authorized by voters for the Texas Water Development Board.

The money would be used as a revolving loan account to help fund 562 unique water supply projects outlined in the 2012 state water plan. Because those loans will be repaid, supporters of the amendment say the initial funding can be stretched to meet the 50 years of water needs outlined in the 2012 plan.

The need is magnified by a projected state population growth from 25.4 million residents in 2010 to 46.3 million by 2060.

The record heat and drought of the summer of 2011 taught many Texans about the importance of water supplies. Still, state water officials say the real “drought of record” for the state occurred in the 1950s.

The state’s water planning process involves 16 regional groups with representatives from diverse constituencies including industry, the public and environmental interests. Each group compiles a regional plan every five years, which are combined into the state plan.

The latest is the 2012 plan. While it includes various strategies to meet water needs, about 34 percent of the goal would come from conservation and reuse, 17 percent from new major reservoirs and 34 percent from other surface supplies.

The estimated cost is $53 billion.

Lost income, jobs and tax revenue could cost many times that amount if these projects aren’t done and there’s another record drought.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends voting for Proposition 6.

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