Voters to Decide on Prop. 6

By: David Norris Email
By: David Norris Email

COLLEGE STATION, Texas State water officials warn water supplies are running low, even as the population continues to grow.

David Coleman with the College Station Water Services said if something isn't done to fix the water issues, Texas could lose billions of dollars in jobs and annual income over the next 50 years.

"We're estimating that over the next 50 years, the population of Texas is going to increase by 50 percent," said Coleman. "But over that same time frame, our existing water supply is going to decline by ten percent."

Coleman said State Proposition 6 on the ballot could go a long way to fixing those problems.

If passed, Proposition 6 would allow the state of Texas to take $2 billion from the rainy day fund and create the State Water Implementation Fund (SWIFT). The state would then use that money as a backing to sell bonds, and the money from those bonds would be used to loan out for water projects around the state.

There are 16 water regions in the state, and each region would request loans from the Texas Water Development Board for their projects.

"And they've stipulated that it has to be water conservation projects, it has to improve agricultural irrigation efficiency," said Coleman.

Coleman said projects could also include increasing water supplies, such as drilling new wells.

Not everyone is on board with the proposition. Linda Curtis with Independent Texans said the three-person Texas Water Development Board will be responsible for deciding who gets the money. She said since the board members are appointed by the governor, it leaves too much room for possible corruption.

"How many times do we have to go through this," said Curtis. "We just had the Cancer Research funds pilfered by Perry cronies. On the heels of that, now they want to do this on water. We need to hold on to our water, folks. It's the most important resource right now in Texas.

Curtis said it's not easy to see a dramatic growth in population and protect water supplies at the same time.

"This is a crisis, and it needs to be kept where it is," said Curtis. "Mother Nature is not going to cooperate, and she will ultimately win."

Curtis said water conservation should have a higher priority than the plan currently calls for.

Coleman said Proposition 6 would allow cities like College Station to get loans from the state at typically lower interest rates. He said those savings would pass on to the taxpayers.

"If you're talking about millions of dollars over 20 years, that saves a lot of money," said Coleman. "That savings is passed on to the rate payers."

Coleman said over the next 50 years, the Brazos Water Region has about 50 projects totaling more than $3 billion.

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