Smaller Water Bills Flow Through the House, But Big Funding Misses Out

MATT STAMEY/Gainesville Sun /Landov

The Texas House passed several bills this week that could affect Texas' water and how it is used.

The flow of water legislation continued this week as the House passed several bills that could affect one of Texas’ dearest natural resources. Thursday was the deadline for most bills originating in the House to come to floor for a vote. (The Senate has some more time, however.)

StateImpact Texas compiled a short list of some notable water bills that were passed out of the House and now head to the Senate for consideration.

However, one bill that would have put big money towards water projects in Texas is notably absent from the list. HB 11, by state Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland, a landmark piece of water legislation that would have used $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to finance water projects across Texas, was sunk last week.

Now Floating Towards the Senate

It was a positive week for Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio. Three water-related bills of his were passed.

HB 2133, by Larson, which promotes conservation and the use of alternative water treatment options, specifically desalination and reuse, passed the House Thursday and is now in the Senate.

HB 3013, by Larson, promotes the use of aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) projects — the injection of potable water into an aquifer for storage. Storing water underground stops evaporation and other natural processes that deplete the supply. The bill passed the House Friday morning.

HB 2578, also by Larson, would help Texas tap its supplies of brackish groundwater. There are about 2.7 billion acre feet of brackish groundwater in the state, according to the bill analysis. That water could be desalinated for freshwater use. (An acre foot is about 326,000 gallons, enough to supply three average households for a year.) The bill passed out of the House Friday morning. Previously: Definition of ‘Brackish’ Stirs Debate at the Capitol

Water Bills That Didn’t Make the Cut 

Some water legislation was left circling in the eddy. There’s a chance they could be resurrected in some form in the Senate.

HB 2406, by Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, would allow fracking companies to move used facking fluid by pipeline rather than truck. The use of heavy trucks to haul millions of gallons of wastewater to disposal wells is causing air pollution and eroding highways, according to the bill analysis. While the House bill went nowhere, an identical Senate version, SB 514 by state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, has already passed there and is now being considered by the House in committee.

HB 2146, by Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, would have put restrictions on the mining of natural resources such as sand, gravel and marl in protected freshwater areas.

HB 1509, by Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, would have changed how animal control and conservation ordinance (including water restriction) violations are prosecuted. The bill would have allowed municipalities to use civil and quasi-judicial action against violators. The House passed the Senate companion bill, SB 654, in leu of HB 1509, which was put on the table. Now, the Senate bill is back in the Senate, and from there could head to the Governor for signing.

David Barer is a reporting intern for StateImpact Texas.

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