Ducks Unlimited is supporting Proposition 6, the Texas constitutional amendment overwhelmingly passed by the both the Texas House and Senate providing onetime water funding out of the state’s Rainy Day Fund. If passed, the amendment would pave the way for billions of dollars for prioritized local and regional water projects to meet the long-term goals of the state water plan – which is retooled every five years by regional planning groups – over the next 50 years.
Water quantity and quality are critical issues facing waterfowl and wetlands, and have been at the top of DU’s agenda in Texas. In 2011, Texas suffered the worst single-year drought in the state’s history, and drought conditions continue today. Waterfowlers and other sportsmen and women recognize the difficult circumstances Texas is facing with the extended drought. It impacts fish, wildlife and natural resources, but also communities, businesses, the energy industry, agricultural production, local and state economies and all Texans. DU believes Prop 6 is a strong start for a long-term remedy to Texas’ water situation.
Texas Ballot Proposition 6 reads: “The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas to assist in the financing of priority projects in the state water plan to ensure the availability of adequate water resources.”
Proposition 6 implements HB 4 (the water bill supported by DU), providing rotating bond funding for water, of which 20 percent must go to water conservation funding and 10 percent to funding rural and agricultural water conservation projects. The legislation package authorizes $2 billion to start a revolving water fund contingent upon voter approval in the Nov. 5 election. The funds are loans, so the state retains the assets until full repayment. The newly revised Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) will set criteria based upon legislation to prioritize the most immediate needs for funding to struggling communities and basins on a regional basis.
The provisions also prohibit the use of state funds for a water project if the applicant has failed to submit or implement a water conservation plan. In addition, HB 4 requires that regional water planning groups prioritize projects in their regional plans for possible state financial assistance and that the prioritization factors include criteria such as the feasibility, viability, sustainability and cost-effectiveness of a project – factors that should work in favor of conservation projects. TWDB, in prioritizing projects to receive state financial assistance, must consider (among other criteria) the demonstrated or projected effect of the project on water conservation, including preventing the loss of water, another key factor for conservation.