Perry Proposes Account to Speed Reservoir Construction

Texas Gov. Rick Perry emphasized on Feb. 25 the need to fund the State Water Plan, which would ensure a cost-effective and reliable supply of water for the state's growing population well into the future.

Speaking at the Texas Water Conservation Association Conference, the governor proposed that funding be provided to a new infrastructure account to speed the construction of water reservoir sites.

"The issues that surround our need for water demand frank conversations, visionary planning, and tough choices," Perry said. "I am convinced that the time to adequately preserve and allocate our water supply is now, so that our children and grandchildren will have access to this life-giving resource for the next 50 years."

The 2007 Texas State Water Plan projects that water demand will increase 18 percent over the next 50 years from 18.3 million acre-feet per year in 2010 to 21.6 million acre-feet per year in 2060. One acre foot is equivalent to 325,851 gallons of water. In the same amount of time, the Texas population is projected to double, reaching up to 46 million residents.

In 2001, the Legislature approved a comprehensive water plan for the state, but that plan has yet to secure the funding necessary for implementation. Allocating $260 million into an infrastructure account would utilize principal and interest to help accelerate the acquisition and construction of 16 reservoir sites across the state already designated by the State Water Plan. Speeding up the acquisition and construction of these sites would provide cost-effective and reliable surface water supplies for municipal and industrial users, steam electric power generation, and other purposes.

Perry also reiterated the need to clarify state eminent domain laws, which will become an important issue as the state works to expand its water infrastructure to meet growing demands.

"It is time for a constitutional amendment that clearly codifies these essential protections for generations to come," said Perry. "Government shouldn't use eminent domain to take someone's land without making an honest effort to buy it first. Landowners should also be allowed to buy back land when it isn't used for the project it was taken for and buy it for the price the government paid for it. Any increase in value belongs to the landowner, not the government."

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