February 3, 2011:
Conservation Advisory Council at Risk
At least one state legislator has indicated that he will try to eliminate the state's Water Conservation Advisory Council during the regular session of the 82nd Texas Legislature, now in progress. This move might be made through a “stand-alone” piece of legislation, a provision in or amendment to the Texas Water Development Board “sunset” bill (the Council receives staff support from the Board), or elimination of funding for the Council in the appropriations bill for state agencies (the financial support for the Council is only about $80,000 a year). The Sierra
Club strongly supports continuation of the Council, whose work is important to meeting state water needs, and urges others to do so as well.
The Council was created by the Legislature in 2007 to advise state officials, the Water Development Board, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), regional water planning groups, and others on ways to advance water conservation in Texas. The latest water plans developed by the state’s sixteen regional water planning groups and approved by the Water Development board indicate that almost one-fourth of the state’s future water demands over the next 50 years need to be met by implementation of water conservation measures. As the state government’s sole entity focused on water conservation, the Council will play a pivotal role in achieving that goal.
The Council has been given and has undertaken several specific responsibilities:
The Council represents a diverse set of
interests – including agricultural, environmental,
and water supply interests, among others. Ken
Kramer, Director of the Lone Star Chapter of the
Sierra Club represents environmental interests on
- monitor trends in water conservation implementation
- monitor new technologies for possible inclusion
in the state’s Best Management Practices Guide for
- monitor the effectiveness of the statewide
water public awareness program
- develop and implement a state water management
- develop and implement a public recognition
program for water conservation
- monitor the implementation of water conservation
strategies in regional water plans
- monitor target and goal guidelines for water
conservation set by state agencies.
The issue of eliminating the Council became
public toward the end of the review of the Water
Development Board by the Sunset Advisory Commission
last December. Two days before the Commission
was set to adopt its final recommendations on
the Board, the Commission chairman – Sen.
Glenn Hegar – raised the idea of eliminating
the Council and “saving” the state the approximately
$83,000 a year spent for its support. This
proposal was not made by the Sunset
Commission staff reviewing the Board, was not raised
in public testimony before the Commission, and
was not raised by the Board.
The proposal to eliminate the Council was pulled at
the Commission meeting by Sen. Hegar at the last minute,
and other members of the Commission, especially Rep.
Larry Taylor and Sen. Robert Nichols,
expressed support for the Council. However, since
that meeting Sen. Hegar again has indicated an interest
in eliminating the Council. Supporters of the Council
are vigilantly watching and working to make sure that
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