orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Opinion

April 27, 2013

Water Plan Cannot Be Delayed Any Longer

AUSTIN, Texas — It’s difficult to believe there’s anyone in Texas who doesn’t understand the immediate need to address water infrastructure. With a state as vast and geographically diverse as Texas, we don't always have water in the right places. That's why we must invest in infrastructure to develop the water-supplies for the areas that need it.

The fundamental truth is this: If we don’t deal with this problem now, it holds the potential of inflicting catastrophic damage upon our economy and our very way of life.

And every session we kick this can down the road, the danger becomes more pronounced and the price tag for dealing with it grows larger.

We can take a historic step toward resolving our water deficit with House Bill 11 by Rep. Allan Ritter, which provides a meaningful, one-time investment in water infrastructure to keep our state viable for future economic growth.

Our population is now over 26 million and increasing by more than 1,000 a day. We continue to attract key employers from around the world seeking to expand or relocate. And our agriculture sector continues to help feed the world.

These are three thirsty variables in a troubling equation that adds up to severe water deficits in  portions of our state in the decades to come, and even sooner if we suffer through a serious drought like the one we experienced in the 1950s. Economic models indicate that a drought of that magnitude could cost Texans $116 billion in lost income.

If we have such a drought, by 2060 – with the population at that time expected to be over 46 million – we’ll likely be facing a deficit of 8.3 million acre-feet. (An acre-foot is roughly equivalent to the average annual water usage of three to four households.)

In addition to basic quality-of-life issues, this need cuts us across all areas, including economic development. While we enjoy our status as a prime relocation site, companies keep a close eye on the quality of a location’s water and transportation infrastructure when making the final decision on where to go. If we want to retain our status as the nation’s epicenter for job creation, we need to address this issue now, and address it aggressively.

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