House Speaker Joe Straus says tackling the current shortage and growing demand for drinking water is the biggest problem facing Texas today. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has floated the idea of starting a Texas Water Development Bank with $1 billion from Rainy Day Fund.
There is no doubt that Texas is in dire need of a well-funded water plan, and lawmakers on both Republicans and Democrats appear ready to do something this year. Part of the impetus comes from experiencing the worst single-year drought in Texas history in 2011. The rest comes from the realization Texas isn't ready for the next one.
"I think it's very encouraging that the discussion is beginning now, and in advance of the session, to address one of the issues that we absolutely have to seriously address," Straus told The Associated Press in an interview.
The growing water problem is a byproduct of the state's economic success. The state's leaders like to brag about how Texas attracts jobs and people to move here and the state demographer estimates that Texas's population is expected to grow from 25 million in 2010 to 55 million in 2050. That's a lot more thirsty people.
All too frequently, there is not enough potable drinking water in many communities. At the same time, floods destroy property.
Texas is meeting with a very serious issue on the subject, trying to fathom a huge expenditure against fiscal responsibility. This is not an easy situation.