The New Texas Water Development Board

In its 83rd Session, the Texas Legislature reorganized the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) via House Bill 4 (Ritter). The primary changes were to reduce the number of board members from six to three and to make those memberships into full-time positions. The law expressly prohibits any member of the new TWDB from having any previous experience on the board. The same is true for the new executive administrator, manifesting the Legislature’s desire for a restart of the agency.

The new members are appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate. They are supposed to be diverse in reflecting the geographic regions and population groups of the state, as well as in their professional backgrounds. One should be an engineer, one a finance professional and one an attorney or businessperson. On September 1, 2013, Governor Perry appointed Carlos Rubenstein (chair), Bech Bruun and Mary Ann Williamson as the first members of the new board.

The TWDB was reorganized to enable the agency to effectively administer the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT), which was also established by HB 4, subject to voter approval on November 5, 2013. That role will be enhanced by making the positions full-time, breaking down historical practices of the board, and reducing the number of board members to three. Three members is a good number for gettings things done, since only two members have to agree in order to take action. Texans in general are in a mood to make progress toward improving water security for the state, and the new TWDB is a move in that direction.

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