Effective September 1, 2013, the Texas Legislature adopted rules governing the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) pursuant to House Bill 4 (Ritter). Creation and funding of SWIFT requires constitutional amendment through Proposition 6, which will be submitted to Texas voters on November 5, 2013. If Proposition 6 passes, SWIFT would be managed by the new Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), which I described in an earlier post.
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.
In October 2011, I wrote in American Water Intelligence about the decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Tarrant Regional Water District v. Hermann. Last week the US Supreme Court granted certiorari and will hear the case this session. My article from October 2011 is below for background. The case presents an interesting dispute regarding transboundary water management.
The City of San Antonio has been one of the fastest growing urban areas in the United States for over a decade, and providing water security for the city has required the development of new water supplies. The San Antonio Water System (SAWS) was historically dependent on groundwater supplies from the Edwards Aquifer, but has sought to diversify its water asset portfolio through conjunctive use of imported surface water and groundwater supplies. One of those efforts involved an agreement with the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), under which SAWS would fund certain agricultural conservation and groundwater development projects in the Colorado River Basin and in exchange would receive a portion of the conserved water for up to 80 years. The proposed transaction was similar to large agricultural conservation-based transfers from the Imperial Valley to San Diego, California and from northern Victoria to Melbourne, Australia in recent years. Unlike those transfers, however, the proposed LCRA-SAWS transaction faltered before it even began.