Texas House Democrats recognize the serious consequences of climate change, and that we must support sustainable, environment-friendly solutions. Over a decade ago, Texas House Democrats led efforts to support a shift in our state’s energy portfolio from oil and gas to natural resources, as well as the development of Texas’ renewable energy markets. As one of the largest states in the country, Texas’ natural resources are vast and require preservation and protection so their value and their beauty may be sustained for generations to come.
Access to healthy, clean drinking water is one of the greatest challenges in the state. As climate change creates more severe and unpredictable weather patterns, navigating between years of drought and years of severe flooding creates real challenges for state water planners. One of the more crucial components for Texas Democrats, especially in rural communities and colonias, is to ensure we have safe drinking water for everyone. That requires protecting water found in aquifers and water tables, and balancing these needs for protection against irrigation and energy needs.
Here’s a sample of some of the legislation championed by Texas House Democrats in 2017:
Lower Utility Rates for Texas Seniors
The bill allows the Public Utility Commission to establish a fund through which charitable contributions can be made to help pay for a utility rate reduction for certain senior citizens.
Fixing Deteriorated Water Wells to Preserve the Environment
The bill fixes a number of regulations regarding Texas’ water wells, many of which are open, uncovered, abandoned or deteriorating — posing a serious environmental threat to Texas communities. This simple yet effective fix will help protect Texans from pollution and harmful materials that could otherwise infiltrate our water system.
Uniform Water Rates for Texas Schools and Businesses
Water and sewer services provided to Texas’ public schools are sometimes charged at different rates than they are to Texas businesses. This lack of clarity and consistency can cause issues for schools as well as utilities. In order to better streamline the process for how communities are charged for water use, HB 2369 ensures that schools are charged water rates in the same manner that businesses are charged.
Crucial Water & Utility District for Travis County
The bill creates a utility district for over 2,000 acres of land in Travis County. The utility district will help oversee an environmentally-sustainable creation of water, sewer, drainage, and road facilities, which will be created in conjunction with mixed-use land developments.
Ensuring Strong Water Quality in Unincorporated County Areas
The bill allows the Texas Attorney General to bring a suit for certain water or sewer utilities upon certain requests. This is intended to help Texans who live in unincorporated areas of a county, who depend on private water and sewer utilities for their water and may not be able to seek, from those entities, proper or timely resolution to poor water quality.