With Summer in full swing and most of East Texas experiencing moderate drought conditions, water is a popular topic right now. Several Texas communities in North and West Texas have already begun curtailing water usage and without some good rain in the near future, water restrictions and curtailment will become commonplace. Closer to home, many are praying for rain on our gardens and hay meadows, and trips to the lake or a nearby swimming pool are becoming more frequent. With so much attention on water these days, I thought it would be appropriate in this column to cover the House committee that’s primary focus is on our state’s water – the House Committee on Natural Resources.
With that, we’ll dive back into our examination of House interim charges.
House Interim Charge: Natural Resources
The House Committee on Natural Resources has jurisdiction over the conservation and development of water resources across our state. The 11-member committee also regulates all local water-related entities, such as groundwater conservation districts, and oversees several critically important entities such as the Texas Commission on Environmental
Quality and the Texas Water Development Board.
The Natural Resources Committee, like most interim committees, will oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed during the session last year. One bill of focus, SB 1160, created the Gulf Coast Protection District, which will be responsible for developing and constructing coastal barriers and other improvement projects designed to protect coastal communities from severe damage caused by hurricanes and tropical storms. The Texas Coast is a major economic force in our state and country and it’s crucial we continue to make improvements along our coastline to protect communities, industries, wildlife, and our bays and estuaries from future damage.
The Committee has also been tasked with examining a comprehensive list of projects and initiatives related to our state’s water infrastructure. Some examples include the condition of water and flood mitigation infrastructure capabilities, exploring sustainable funding options to further enhance the state’s water project development, assessing federal regulations relating to Texas water, and evaluating the accuracy of surface and groundwater reporting throughout the State.
Additionally, with drought conditions being experienced across most of the state, I fully expect the Committee to closely monitor this situation. After the most severe drought experienced by the state in 2011, the Legislature responded by enacting a number of measures to bolster water supplies, create a funding mechanism to help governmental entities improve their aging water infrastructure, and provide a roadmap for better preparing for future droughts.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will be posting regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and sharing information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.