No Time to Waste
Texas can't wait any longer. We have great plans for water — water quality improvement, water resource management, water resource protection, natural systems protection, infrastructure improvement, and more. The list goes on and on and comes with a mega price tag.
That's the bad news. But there's a lot of good news — very good news.
The Good News
First, we have great plans. Many cover all the facets of water, water management, and development — everything we mentioned before and more. These are solid plans, and they come with estimated costs. The better news is that with our budget surplus, the Texas Legislature is prioritizing investment in our plans to achieve water security.
What is water security? It means we’ve identified how much water we need and made arrangements to develop, treat, and store water while protecting the natural systems that provide it. It means that Texas will have the water it needs for generations without sacrificing the quality of our lives or economic vitality.
Related: Challenges and Opportunities for the Future of Water in Texas
A Big Challenge
Even with great plans and sufficient funding, getting from where we are to where we need to be is challenging for all utilities and resource managers. More significantly, urban utilities have plans and customer bases that don’t make implementation easier but make it possible.
Spreading investment costs over a more extensive customer base can make plan implementation — investment — more achievable without giving customers “sticker shock.” State and federal funding can boost the implementation timeline for them. However, it will be incredibly challenging for small, rural, and disadvantaged utilities.
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Small, rural, and underserved communities don’t have the customer base to support the needed investments. They don’t have financial resources, and they don’t have technical resources. They may not have sufficient human resources to set priorities, develop plans and programs, apply for federal and state funding then implement funded priorities.
The Goal - Water Security
That’s what technical assistance must do to ensure that all Texans, and all Texas utilities, achieve water security. It’s a lot. It’s not everything, but it’s a solid foundation for the future. The Legislature has set aside a portion of the funding allocated to water will for investment in technical assistance.
We’re trying to get to water security.
- Water security equals economic development, growth, and improved quality of life
- Water security levels the playing field allowing smaller, rural, and underserved communities to compete for opportunities
- Water security means equitable distribution of resources
- Water security means that schools, hospitals, businesses, manufacturers, miners, farmers, and all other sectors of Texas life will share what there is to share
To achieve water security, we’ll need to invest. We’ll need to implement our plans and provide technical assistance to those who don’t have sufficient plans. We’ll need to closely monitor our financial and natural resources to prioritize the investments that will make the most significant differences for communities large and small, now and in the future.
Texas doesn’t need to wait. Our time is now.
Visit waterworks4texas.com today to learn more.
About the Authors
Leader, Government Services Group, Anser Advisory
Known as a man who gets things done, Robert Sheets has spent a professional lifetime helping advance the goals of local governments. His relationships with local, regional, and state governments, as well as the Department of Defense, have been instrumental in establishing public-private partnerships with a triple bottom line: good for the community, good for business, and good for the environment.
Water Policy Consultant, Anser Advisory
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.