LUBBOCK, Texas — State senator Charles Perry introduced new legislation to the Texas State Legislature which would boost water supply and infrastructure in Texas, he shared with EverythingLubbock.com on Monday.
SB 837 and Senate Joint Resolution 43 would create the “Water for Texas Fun” at the Texas Water Development Board and is “intended to boost water infrastructure projects across the state and dramatically increase water supply.”
State Sen. Perry said the new bill would use $3 billion of the state’s $33 billion budget surplus to, in part, support infrastructure in regions that are particularly dry, like West Texas.
“There’s an estimate that 70% of the pipes in the ground are at or over their estimated life, and we lose almost 150 billion gallons of water a year. So, you just want to go ahead and fix the low-hanging fruit and keep what we have longer,” Perry said.
The two pieces of legislation would use the proposed “Water for Texas Fund” to address this water loss, he explained.
“Groundwater sources are being depleted. Where there’s actually been little or no rainfall for a couple of years, they’re beginning to see the impacts of it,” Perry began. “So, I think that this is a good session when you put the money that is available for these kinds of initiatives.”
If the bill and resolution are passed by legislators, Perry said there would also be funding for new projects.
“Specifically in West Texas where our oil and gas production comes from… We will draw out a million barrels of water every day in the oil and gas patch. It is dirty water, hard water… that’s gotta be cleaned out,” he started. “I’ve got a pilot project that works in conjunction with this fund long term that is supposed to go out there these next two years and test technologies on how we clean up that 14 million barrels a day.”
He estimated “if we just recover half of that water, that’s a quarter of a million of acre feet, which is more water than Midland, Odessa and Amarillo use in a year.”
With a booming population, State Senator Perry said he hopes this legislation will answer the call of the future.
“If we can crack the nut on water supply through brackish conversations, [acquiring] more water rights from other places that have water, we begin the process of turning the narrative that we’re running short and actually get to a place- because we’re wealthy enough to get there- to have a water supply that meets the needs of the 30 million, projected 50 million.”
Last month, Governor Abbott voiced support for boosting water infrastructure across the state.
Lawmakers have until March 10 to file their bills, at which point, they will discuss and then vote sometime before the session ends in May.