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Water Ballot Issue Has New Urgency as Drought Widens

 
Water Ballot Issue Has New Urgency as Drought Widens
Posted October 10th, 2013 @ 5:07am by Jim Forsyth

With local and statewide water supplies rapidly dwindling, state leaders from both parties are urging voter support of Proposition 6, a proposal which would take $2 billion from the rainy day fund and create a revolving loan fund for new water projects, 1200 WOAI news reports.

  "We must insure that there is an adequate supply of water for generations to come," Gov. Perry told reporters at a Colorado River dam northwest of Austin.  The Highland Lakes are at just 31% of their supply, an indication of the state's dwindling water fortunes.

  Speaker of House Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) says the projects the $2 billion would fund will help the state deal with its exploding population, and the water needs that population brings.

  "In the next ten years, as in the last ten or twelve, Texas is expected to grow by another five million people," Straus said.  "That's like growing another metro area the size of Houston."

  The $2 billion would not be spent.  Instead, it would act as seed money to make loans to local water utilities for desalination projects, pipelines, aquifer recovery and storage proposals, and other ways to either create new water sources, or institute aggressive water conservation plans.

  State Rep. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) is worried that recent rains which have led to green lawns will make people think the water crisis has been solved.

  "Uvalde has less than sixty days of water left, Leakey is running out of water as well," he said.  "Then you go to the Valley, Edcouch, Else, Raymondville, all of those areas have less than 180 days of water left."

  Larsen says the state's three year drought is on the verge of damaging our economy.  He says economic development officials are already showing pictures of the Texas drought to business owners who are considering moving jobs to Texas, and in many cases, that is dissuading them from moving their operations here.

  "If we don't do something now, jobs will leave the state by the tens of thousands," he said.

  A new poll showed the water election is too close to call.

  "I believe that this is the most important vote that folks are going to have in the next couple of decades," Larson said.

  The major opposition to the proposal comes from conservative Tea Party groups, which say the Rainy Day Fund should be maintained so Texas is not dependent on the federal government in case of emergency.

  Larson says the Fund is now swollen to a far larger balance than ever anticipated due to the proceeds from the Eagle Ford oil and gas fields, and he says investing that money in water projects would be a much better use of the funds than having the money sit in the bank 'earning one percent interest.'

  "We need a reliable source of water to remain the country's number one job creator as our population swells," Straus said.

 

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