News Feature | January 24, 2014

Texas Lawmakers Dig Into Desalination

By Sara Jerome

oceanreg

The drought-plagued Lone Star State is studying whether desalination can alleviate its water squeeze

It made the fact-finding effort official recently by starting a new panel in the state legislature. 

"Following recent severe droughts, a Joint Interim Committee to Study Water Desalination has been created by the legislature in the state of Texas, including members of both houses," D&WR reported

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst announced appointments to the committee last week. 

"With our population doubling in the next 50 years, we must ensure our water infrastructure is prepared to handle that growth and help grow our economy," Dewhurst said. "The November vote showed that Texans understand the importance of sufficient infrastructure in the face of population growth and periodic drought. These charges will keep us focused on efforts that will protect our quality of life and America's best state economy."

Dewhurst also asked the state's Senate Natural Resources Committee to focus on four key issues of relevance to the water industry: brackish water, regulation of the state's water supply, environmental permitting delays, and the enforcement of laws passed during the last session, including House Bill 4 which created the state water implementation fund.

"I believe we have a moral, ethical and legal obligation to provide this essential human need for our citizens," Dewhurst said. "Through these committees and interim charges, I am confident that Texas is continuing in the right direction that will only strengthen our economy."

Texas Senator Eddie Lucio of Brownsville, who was appointed to the desalination committee, is dedicated to understanding the benefits of desalination. 

"Coming off a year in which the voters overwhelmingly approved committing state funds to local water infrastructure projects, immediate study of responsible water use technology is vitally important. Creation of this Committee shows again that Texas is serious about looking for innovative ways to meet the state's growing water demands," he said in a statement

Lucio's hometown is already moving on this issue, the Latino Post noted

"The Brownsville Public Utilities Board in Cameron County, located in Lucio's district, has operated a brackish water desalination plant since 2003. Lucio also reports that the Port of Brownsville has recently begun a seawater desalination pilot program," the report said. 

For more on this topic, check out Water Online's Desalination Solution Center

Image credit: "Gulf Coast Autumn Sun," © 2011 StuSeeger, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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