Prop 6 passed – Now what to expect?

Many are probably right to sense the direct impact from Prop 6 passage has yet to be determined, and that the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) will have a tough job of ranking “apples and oranges” water infrastructure projects statewide once it passes.

A couple of clarifications to add to the naysayers; a percentage of rural and conservation interests must be included, and projects eligible have to be in the state water plan already per region to be considered. Speculative discussion from stakeholder groups (representing the various regions at a work session of the TWDB recently) revolved around the perceived advantage of municipal strategies compared to agricultural interests and how difficult it will be to rank projects equally due to a variety of factors.

All legitimate challenges, but Prop 6 passing is the first step toward funding the envisioned statewide water plan. The thought is if water conveyance/delivery infrastructure is improved strategically, then the whole state benefits. Support from a wide variety of interests on both sides of the aisle should be inferred by voters as legitimate rationale to vote in favor of this effort. The development of both a line of state credit ($6 billion approved already approved by Texas voters as a line of credit if TWDB deems appropriate to use) coupled with the $2 billion CASH to use as a revolving leverage fund from Prop 6 passage, is anticipated to actually produce $27 billion worth of projects over 50 years.

The TWDB, led by Chairman Carlos Rubinstein and fellow members Bech Bruun and Mary Ann Williamson, will be tasked with developing criteria standards for project application and implementation once Prop 6 passes. I can think of no one better qualified for leading successful implementation than Rubinstein, a former Brownsville City Manager, Rio Grande River Watermaster, & TCEQ Commissioner who knows well the direct and indirect impact from prolonged drought on water systems large and small throughout Texas.

Aside from the financial aspect, support of Prop 6 is more of a “we’re all in this together, so let’s sharpen the tools to meet the demand” kind of approach to water in general, and thus far has produced a wide variety of odd allies. Focus on statewide water infrastructure needs and understanding of why water is so scarce & underpriced is necessary for public support of lifestyle changes necessary to adapt to reality.

Limitations of available surface water rights and ground water availability notwithstanding, the problems placed on our water supplies from desired development/population growth can be offset by strategic investment in critical water systems. Statewide challenges associated with Texas using more water than is replenished annually in the hydrologic cycle can be addressed by lawmakers with greater efficacy if the strategy includes implementation of the State Water Plan.

Prop 6 passage will facilitate worthy investment and is fair and just for all Texans.

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