orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Opinion

April 27, 2013

Water Plan Cannot Be Delayed Any Longer

(Continued)

AUSTIN, Texas — The good news is that current economic conditions and available balances in the Rainy Day Fund provide a unique opportunity for the state to partner with communities by offering financing to develop and implement new water supplies. HB 11’s one-time transfer of $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund would capitalize a newly-created perpetual fund that, over time, has the capacity to finance $27 billion of identified assistance needed in the 2012 State Water Plan, which outlines the water needs of our state for the next 50 years.

Historically, water funding has been dependent on the Legislature to appropriate general revenue to pay debt service on bonds issued for specific projects. Relying on this piecemeal method of funding is more expensive and less effective than this idea. For example, if we funded the Water Plan strictly by tapping general revenue, by 2060 we’d have spent somewhere between $8 billion and $12 billion.

Combined with financing from the private sector, this one-time dispersal from the Rainy Day Fund should fully implement the plan without requiring ongoing contributions from general revenue.

Since 1997, Texas has been a recognized leader in developing and implementing strategies to ensure Texans have access to clean, reliable water supplies. As the Texas economy and population boom, it is imperative that our policies encourage water suppliers to find new ways to clean, convey, and conserve water. Upon the passage of HB 11, the state will stand ready to partner with local and regional entities to assist in the development of water infrastructure and capacity projects that will meet the water demands for the next 50 years and beyond.

This is simply not an issue we can ignore anymore.

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