TWDB asks, 'Why do we need the 2007 State Water Plan?'

People who follow water planning and policy are aware of development of the 2007 Texas State Water Plan and its delivery to the Governor and Legislature Jan. 5, but most aren't. Reasons for the plan are numerous. The state population should grow by 40% between 2000 and 2020 -- more in the fastest growing cities. Even with aggressive conservation programs, more people will require more water, whether for home, industrial or power generation, says Texas Water Development Board's Kevin Kluge...

By Kevin Kluge

People who follow water planning and policy have been aware of the development of the 2007 State Water Plan and its delivery to the Governor and Legislature on Jan. 5. However, for most people, the question remains, "Why should they care about the State Water Plan?"

The reasons are numerous. First, the number of Texans is expected to increase by 40% between 2000 and 2020, and will increase much more in the state's fastest growing cities. Even with aggressive conservation programs, more people will require more water, whether for home use, industrial use or for power generation.

Second, during a future severe drought, many of these cities will not have enough water without instituting severe water restrictions for their customers. In October of 2006, which was a very dry time for much of the state, customers of 176 water systems faced mandatory water restrictions and over 100 faced voluntary restrictions. With a repeat of the drought of record which Texans experienced in the 1950s, even water restrictions will not be enough for many areas of Texas to ensure a stable water supply.

Third, the development of additional water that can be used by people and industry will not be cheap. The total capital cost of over 4,500 strategies recommended by the regional water planning groups is estimated to be $30.7 billion over the next 50 years. This cost will primarily be borne by local utility rate payers, producers and consumers. Only 6% of the estimated capital costs are expected to be met by state funds.

Fourth, despite the high costs of additional water, the potential costs of not developing additional water supplies will be even higher. If a statewide severe drought were to occur in 2010 and no additional water sources were developed, it is projected that the state would lose approximately 118,970 jobs and over $9 billion in income.

The state's water needs can be addressed with good planning, epitomized by the 2007 State Water Plan. The focus in 2007 for the TWDB will be on legislative action needed to move project implementation forward. The regional water planning groups noted numerous issues that the legislature should consider addressing to help implement the 2007 State Water Plan and ensure Texas has water for the future. From these, the TWDB developed legislative recommendations on the following issues: financing of recommended water management strategies; reservoir site designation and acquisition; interbasin transfers of water; environmental water needs; water conservation; expedited amendment process for regional water plans, and indirect reuse.

For more information on the 2007 State Water Plan, visit the TWDB website: www.twdb.state.tx.us

About the Author: Kevin Kluge is one of the Texas Water Development Board's Regional Water Planning Project Managers among its Office of Planning staff.

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