AUSTIN, Texas – The H2O4TEXAS Coalition, a diverse collection of private and public sector entities committed to securing full implementation of the State Water Plan, has announced its formation and rolled out its agenda for the 82nd Legislative Session.
“The coalition recognizes that the legislature already faces a difficult struggle to pass a balanced budget,” said Heather Harward, executive director of the H2O4TEXAS Coalition, “but water can’t wait until our economic forecast is sunny. Without a sufficient supply of clean, affordable water, our state’s economic development opportunities will be irrevocably harmed.”
Citing Texas Water Development Board projections, Harward noted that during times of drought 85 percent of Texans will suffer from a devastating lack of clean, affordable water if the state’s water plan is not implemented.
Texas’ water plan – which was developed using a bottom-up approach from the local and regional levels starting in 1997 – is a unique tool heralded nationwide as the model for state water planning efforts.
“Water isn’t merely a quality of life issue; life cannot exist without water,” Harward said. “Our coalition is committed to educating legislators and the public about the crippling effects that a lack of water will have on the economy and our public health, and through that education we will advocate for the identification and adoption of a permanent funding source for the State Water Plan.”
Thanks to the past leadership of current legislative advocates like Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state Rep. Allan Ritter, the Texas Legislature made significant investments in the state’s water plan during the 80th and 81st legislative sessions.
But funding on a session-by-session basis is not enough.
Today, the coalition and other leaders on state water issues are helping to educate the public and Texas’ policy makers about the necessity of making a permanent, long-term commitment to the plan’s success, such as the establishment of a permanent funding source, which would protect our state’s water future from the unpredictability of the appropriations process.
Harward said the leadership in both chambers of the Legislature, including all chairmen of the Senate and House natural resources committees in recent years, have tirelessly supported efforts to keep water supplies ahead of demand.
She foresees similar support from the incoming Legislature, including newly appointed Senate Natural Resources Committee Chairman Troy Fraser, who represents a semi-arid region of the state that stretches across the Texas hill country.
“Thanks to great leaders such as Bob Bullock, Buster Brown, Ron Lewis, David Counts, Ken Armbrister, Kip Averitt, Robert Puente and many others, the Texas Water Plan is the envy of the rest of the country,” said Jim Oliver, general manager of Tarrant Regional Water District, one of the coalition’s founding partners. “However, until we put our fiscal resources permanently behind our planning efforts, we have nothing more than a great plan.”
H204TEXAS Coalition members include the North Texas Municipal Water District, Tarrant Regional Water District, North Harris County Regional Water Authority, city of Corpus Christi, Nature Conservancy of Texas, AEP, NRG, Luminant, Chesapeake Energy, Texas Municipal League, Texas Oil & Gas Association, Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association, Environmental Section of the Texas Bar, Dallas Chamber of Commerce, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, Texas Water Foundation, Water Environment Association of Texas, Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend, Jackson Walker, Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell, ROSS Communications, Focused Advocacy, former state Sen. Kip Averitt and Bruce LaBoon.
More information regarding the coalition can be found at www.H2O4TEXAS.org.