News Feature | October 16, 2013

Texas May Divert Billions To Water Projects

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Texans will take a vote this November on whether to amend the state constitution to green-light billions of dollars in water infrastructure spending. 

Proposition 6 would permit the state to repurpose $2 billion dollars from the Texas Rainy Day Fund. Such funds are typically dedicated to safeguarding a state in the instance of a budget shortfall. The money would be redirected toward water projects, according to the Texas Water Development Board. 

The amendment aims to begin addressing water scarcity issues in the drought-ridden state before they get too bleak. "The Texas population is expected to grow from 25 million to 46 million over the next 50 years. At the same time, Texas’ existing water supplies are expected to shrink by about 10 percent," The Associated Press reported

Where would the money go?

"One example of a project that could be funded by Proposition 6 proceeds is Lake Ralph Hall, a proposed reservoir. It will likely be the first major new water supply to be approved in the region in nearly 30 years," The Star-Telegram reported

Prop 6 boasts support from various industry interests, including water utilities. As a Dallas Morning News editorial put it: "Texans need to be sure to turn out and pass this amendment. Without it, the droughts will win."

Water utilities have played a key role in publicity for the measure. Texas Governor Rick Perry visited water plants in a campaign to raise support for the amendment, according to Star Local News.

At a water treatment plant in Wylie, TX, Perry said, “While our cities and our utilities have already implemented many public awareness campaigns and conservation programs, the simple fact is we can't conserve our way out of the need to develop additional water supply projects across the state of Texas,” he said.

Not everyone is supportive. The main concern is cost. For instance, a watchdog group called Independent Texas sees it like this: "Prop 6 is a dangerous corporate welfare subsidy for well-heeled land and water speculators and the oil & gas lobby looking to make a fast buck in the midst of our historic drought."