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Challenges and Opportunities for the Future of Water in Texas

Challenges and Opportunities for the Future of Water in Texas

Texas 2036 has created a water legislative blueprint titled the Water Infrastructure Crisis. While prepared by Texas 2036, the Texas Water Foundation and the Water Finance Exchange collaborated on a series of stakeholder meetings to discuss the challenges and opportunities for the water future of Texas. Another document that guides our thinking is the 2022 State Water Plan (SWP) developed by the Texas Water Development Board. 

Texas 2036’s report is an important interim step, but without it, 2070, as covered in the SWP, will be downright bleak.

Failure isn’t an Option

Failure to properly manage our water resources and infrastructure, develop new water supplies, and improve our water quality will mean that Texans will not have sufficient water. Economic vitality grinds to a halt, environmental systems could collapse, and this will no longer be the Texas of our dreams as people exit for lack of water. It does not have to be that way.

Related: Collaboration Helps Communities - Win Water Infrastructure Funds

Texas has Good Plans and Implementation is Key

There are state and federal funds available. Profits, nonprofits, residents, and local governments have all witnessed what happens with drought, flood, outages, and boil water notices. None of us want that. All of us are willing to work together to ensure these things don’t become a way of life. 

Texas 2036 outlines specific legislative steps needed to strengthen our water systems without redlining their cost. They include (in our words): 

  • Funding
  • Water needs access to determine which utilities are failing or at risk
  • Capacity development, including technical assistance, workforce development, and economies of scale through regional solutions
  • Community engagement

You may also be interested in: Drought and Flooding - Texas Water

The excellent 2036 Legislative Blueprint has many great ideas but offers the caveat; “Despite the significant funding opportunities made available through IIJA, the magnitude of Texas’ water and wastewater infrastructure problems necessitate changes in the state’s infrastructure assessment and financial strategy.” 

It’s an important warning reflected in the State Water Plan, which moves beyond frameworks and into the specifics of what needs to be done. The plan details our needs and sources. That’s the water we have access to now and how much more those sources can or cannot provide in the future. It also outlines potential new sources that need to be safe, sustainable, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective.

This brings us back to funding. As Texas 2036 points out, a lot of money is available now, but it’s only enough to get us started. And start we must because failure is not an option.

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About the Author

Carlos Rubinstein

Water Policy Consultant, Anser Advisory

Carlos Rubinstein Grey

Rubinstein is an expert on Texas water policy. As chairperson of the Texas Water Development Board (2013-2015) he oversaw the implementation of the $2 billion State Water Infrastructure Fund. (SWIFT). He is a Board Member of the Texas Water Foundation and the Texas Water Trade. Rubinstein has served as the Texas representative to the Western States Water Council, and the Border Governors' Conference Sustainable Development worktable. Rubinstein served as a commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) from 2009–2013. He is a former deputy executive director of TCEQ and Rio Grande Watermaster. Rubinstein has appeared as an expert witness on various environmental cases and has published several peer-reviewed articles on Texas water policy. He is a former city manager for the City of Brownsville. Rubinstein earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Pan American University.