A Review of Texas Water Legislation for the 86th Session

By: Cyndi Jackson – Woodcreek City Council

Here are all the water bills that passed (and might affect us) excluding the amendment.

Understanding critical water supplies, creative methods of re-using water, and enhanced protection against polluters underscore the water “wins” during this legislative session. 

While not every good bill made it through, the ones that did create a groundswell of activity around Statewide planning; cutting across borders, and involving more stakeholders than ever before.  Additionally, we see a trend toward interregional committees and holistic approaches to both riparian waterways and groundwater management.

Aquifer recharge projects became the water buzz word this session resulting in H.B. No. 721, requiring the Water Development Board to complete a study on aquifer recharge projects and commence reporting on supply and demand.  This will create an integrated approach to aquifer storage projects, many of which were presented to the Leg. this session.   

Continuing the theme, H.B. No. 720 allows that “unappropriated water, including storm water and floodwater, may be appropriated for recharge into an aquifer underlying this state, including an aquifer recharge project.”  

Likewise, S.B. No. 520 allows “political subdivision causing artificial recharge of the aquifer is entitled to withdraw during any 12-month period the measured amount of water actually injected or artificially recharged during the preceding 12-month period.”

Exciting bill, H.B. No. 1059 creates “green storm water infrastructure report” by county, municipality, and special district.  The report will cover existing infrastructure for harvesting run off with intent to re-use, along with cost benefit and any legal obstacles that might be removed in the next session.

Another bill we supported, H.B. No. 723, puts TCEQ  in charge of data collection on river basins.  By “December 1, 2022, the commission shall obtain or develop updated water availability models for the Brazos River, Neches River, Red River, and Rio Grande river basins.  The commission may collect data from all jurisdictions that allocate the waters of the rivers, including jurisdictions outside this state.”   

And H. B. No. 807 allows for the creation of a large stakeholder group “Interregional Planning Council” to work under the direction of the Water Development Board while,  H.B. No. 1052 authorizes the Board to develop Interregional water solutions.  This is a “real” Statewide planning process.

S.B. No. 530 increases the fines “relating to civil and administrative penalties assessed or imposed for violations of laws protecting drinking water, public water supplies, and bodies of water” from a maximum of $1,000 per violation to $5,000. 

Water had a good year, let’s drink to that!

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