Sierra Club Commends Senate Leadership on Water But Withholds Support for Omnibus Water Bill
Environmental Group Opposes Reservoir Site Designations and Cautions that Consensus Water Initiatives Could Be Stymied by Controversy over Omnibus Bill
(Austin)—The Sierra Club today commended Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and Sen. Kip Averitt for their leadership on water issues, as shown by the introduction of major water legislation in the Texas Senate, but a Club spokesman made it clear that the environmental group cannot support an omnibus water bill that includes designation of land for reservoir development.
“Future water supply needs in Texas can best be addressed by water conservation, drought management measures, and more efficient and effective use of existing water supplies,” said Sierra Club state director Ken Kramer. “Setting aside land for expensive, environmentally destructive, and unneeded reservoirs is a distraction from the priority steps that Texas should take to make better use of the water resources we have.”
“The State of Texas could make real progress on water issues during this legislative session by focusing on initiatives produced by consensus – such as those on environmental flows protection and water conservation,” added Kramer, who participated in negotiations with diverse interests that led to agreements on those issues.
“The omnibus water bill includes those consensus proposals,” noted Kramer, “but it also includes controversial sections like those on reservoir site designation that will make it impossible to gain widespread support for the bill. We run the risk once again – as in 2005 – of seeing the consensus measures washed down the drain by a torrent of criticism for unrelated provisions in the legislation.”
Kramer pointed out that Speaker of the House Tom Craddick
and House Natural Resources Committee Chair Rep. Robert Puente
are also making water issues a priority for the Texas House
this session and that the Sierra Club also appreciates their
Stand-alone bills on environmental flow protection
(HB 3) and water conservation (HB 4) have been introduced
by Rep. Puente and are progressing in the House. (Stand-alone
bills on reservoir site designation also have been introduced
in the House and the Senate.)
“The value of an omnibus bill” said Kramer “is that it focuses
greater attention on our water future than is sometimes possible
through separate bills on different water topics. But this
session we need action on major water initiatives, not just
attention to the issues.
We hope that the Lt. Governor and
Sen. Averitt will be flexible in making sure that consensus
initiatives on environmental flows and water conservation
pass this session, regardless of the fate of more controversial