Why I Support Proposition 6 on the November 5 Ballot

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I support the passage of Proposition 6, the Texas State Water Fund Amendment, on the November 5 ballot.  

I'm a little surprised to find myself writing those words.  But the proposition presents a good approach for funding water projects, and the process for selecting water projects has vastly improved in the past few decades.

What the proposition does is to set aside about $2 billion from the state “Rainy Day Fund” to be spent on projects in the Texas Water Plan, a plan supervised by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB). The Rainy Day Fund is the multi-billion dollar slush fund fed by taxes on oil & gas production.  This fund is alternately defended to the death and then raided by the Texas Legislature.  

There's not much to admire in the state's finances, and tapping this source of money for the state's water plan is a good use for some of the funds.

I say I'm surprised to be supporting this proposition, because opposing the Texas Water Plan and the TWDB was one of my chief causes as a young environmental journalist in the 1970s.

Read more below the jump.  I say I'm surprised to be supporting this proposition, because opposing the Texas Water Plan and the TWDB was one of my chief causes as a young environmental journalist in the 1970s.  Back then, the Texas Water Plan consisted primarily of two giant canals from East Texas to West Texas, to transfer water (uphill) from areas of 'surplus' to areas of need.  It was developed during the last major drought–of the 1950s–and the TWDB was created to make it happen.  That plan is dead.

The Texas Water Plan is now the long term state plan, updated every five years, for meeting the water needs of the state.  I say the plan is supervised by the TWDB, because it is based on about a dozen and a half regional plans put together by regional water planning groups.  These groups are similar to CAMPO, the central Texas regional transportation planning group.

The current Texas Water Plan should be seen as a process.  It has a 50-year horizon, with five-year adjustments.

Unlike the old plan, this planning process includes conservation.  The plan includes substantial water conservation; it includes consideration of the need for freshwater flows to the bays and estuaries; and it recommends protection for streams of significant ecological value.  Yes, it also includes dams and other construction projects.  And even conservation costs money.

Proposition 6 is not going to create a sudden building boom of water projects.  Rather, its going to give a steady, modest funding source to build projects in a long term planning process.

Some supporters include H2O4TEXAS, Water Texas,The Nature Conservancy in Texas, Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter, and Environment Texas.

The Texas climate is changing; the population is growing; and we're going to have to do something about our water supply.  Proposition 6 is a modest step in that direction.

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