Time is flying in the Texas Legislature! We do not know if this alert will reach you in time to make a difference so… please do what you can right away. We also have some updates at the end of this message.
Last minute changes to the Water Code are expected to come to the floor of the Senate TODAY by way of Rep. Lyle Larson’s (R-San Antonio) HB 31. Truthfully, Larson has already secured a big hand off for water marketers, especially Vista Ridge, with the passage of HB 2378. HB 2378 sets automatic renewals for export groundwater permits, enabling the water lobby to further maximize profits from mass movement of groundwater. This was unstoppable.
However, what we can do to promote conservation of critical groundwater (aquifer) resources is try to amend a bad water bill ---HB 31—if and when it comes to the Senate floor sometime today, this evening or even tomorrow. (The bill would go back to the House for final approval if it manages to get out of the Senate.)
Read the remainder of this alert and call your State Representative and State Senator to urge them to support the amendment the League is now calling the “Protection of Water Resources Amendment”. Find your legislator here.
We have sent this amendment to HB 31 to both Sen. Lois Kolkhorst in the Senate, and Rep. John Cyrier in the House:
(g) A [groundwater] district may not grant or amend a permit for export of groundwater outside of the district’s boundaries for use in whole or in part by a political subdivision of the state if the state water plan identifies equivalent water supplies from other sources in the applicant’s planning region capable of meeting the production amount sought in the permit application. This section does not apply to an export permit for the sole benefit of a non-public entity.
State water policy has to impose some burden on the receiving end as well as on the donor side of groundwater --- we must all pull together to conserve our natural resources. The proposed amendment is one way of doing that. Far-away municipalities should first do the responsible thing by using the available water supply in their own region, before stripping distant communities of water and burdening their ratepayers unnecessarily with higher utility bills.
Another way of doing it is to require them to “prove up” that their residents’ per capita usage will be within state conservation guidelines, both now and 50 years in the future. If they come within state guidelines, we assume they are doing all they can to conserve our precious resource through usage reductions. This in turn produces additional “supply” for their residents and reduces the demand on our aquifers. The point is --- the receiving side has to have skin in the game!
We think both of these concepts could be woven into the Water Code in the next legislative session, and we are asking that HB 31 not be passed in its current form. It is time for our rural communities to throw down!
Otherwise, we are green-lighting mass transfers of groundwater as our priority source of water for the foreseeable future, no matter what other improvements in technology come forward --- the private marketers of water won't politely cancel their perpetual –and profitable--- contracts and permits as a show of good citizenship.
Again, call your Senator and Representative to ask that they support an amendment to HB 31 – call it an amendment to “Protect Our Groundwater Resources”. We don’t yet have a commitment from Sen. Kolkhorst, but you can watch the Senate by clicking on the video link on this page.
Update on the “bad seed bill”, SB 1172: We know that we likely managed to confuse many of you yesterday with a rushed email alert about Amendment 1 to the already “bad seed” bill (SB 1172). The worst language in “Amendment 1” was, in fact, stripped out. But caution: the amendment that stands now still gives businesses involving seeds the right to sue local governments to remove their regulations, with the burden of proof now shifted onto the municipality. This is potentially breaking the back of local towns and counties in rural Texas. Another thanks to Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance for their efforts to keep us informed.
Another bill we suggest you help defeat is HB 1643, thanks to this information from FARFA – this bill would ban drones at Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), defining CAFOS as “critical infrastructure,” in the same “homeland security” category as power plants and petroleum refineries. More here.
Mass transfers of water is a core issue of the League of Independent Voters, and protection of land and small “d” democratic process. These are the meat and potato issues that affect every Texan but have so clearly been lost on a legislature run by two parties at war with each other.
On that note, please enjoy this discussion of the bathroom bill by a Christian conservative mom who gets it!
Thank you for paying attention and asking us to explain ourselves! 🙂