News Feature | May 27, 2014

Water Policy Divides Texas GOP

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


Water policy is driving a rift in the Texas GOP.

"Conservatives worry that establishment Republicans have not stuck to [the principles of less government spending and more local control]," the Texas Tribune reported

One side of the debate consists of prominent Texas Republicans who support major investments in water projects as a way to dampen the effects of the state's severe drought. This side includes Governor Rick Perry. 

On the other side of the debate are conservative activists who identify with the Tea Party faction of the GOP. They say less spending would be more productive, and that investment in water projects "will raise taxes and rob communities of having a say over managing their resources," the Tribune reported. 

The rift was on display when Texas went to the polls last year to decide whether to authorize a $2 billion water package. The package, known as Prop 6, won in a landslide victory, the Austin Chronicle reported. 

Tea Party voices said it is a waste of money. 

“Our view obviously is that most likely it’s going to be window dressing for a slush fund,” said Bill Bunch of Austin’s Save Our Springs Alliance, which opposed Prop 6, per the Texas Observer

The GOP rift has also been on display in the debate over Lake Granbury.

"Lake Granbury is only 53 percent full, in part because of the drought, but also because the Brazos River Authority, which controls the lake, closed a nearby hydropower plant that had effectively delivered water to the lake," the Tribune reported. 

The Hood County Tea Party is lobbying on this issue. It argues that "the authority’s [Republican governor]-appointed board of catering to special interests rather than the community’s needs and demanding that the authority make sure more water is delivered to the lake," the Tribune reported. 

"The group is also involved in fighting attempts from the Brazos River Authority to withdraw more water from the river, which lakeside residents fear will further deplete the lake," the report said. 

The drought in Texas is severe and spreading. 

"The Lone Star State can't seem to stay out of the heat. In a new drought report by the Texas Water Development Board, the state saw worsening conditions that now affect two thirds of Texas," the Houson Chronicle recently reported

For more on policy and politics, check out Water Online's Regulations and Legislation Solution Center

Image credit: "The Republican GOP," © 2006 irrational_cat, used under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license:

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