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No prayer necessary: Texas Legislature passes major water infrastructure and conservation bill

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Lake Travis supplies water to Austin, TX and is at less than half capacity. The high water mark is clearly visible at the top of the exposed limestone. Photo by David Wogan.

Texas is expected to change in several ways in the coming decades. A population boom is showing no signs of slowing as companies, manufacturers, and people move here. Our climate, already warm and dry, is expected to become warmer and drier. Both forces add up to increased demand on the state’s diminishing water supplies.

In a state whose Governor once prayed for rain, a miracle of climate adaptation legislation passed the House of Representatives recently – albeit without actually mentioning “climate change”. Nathanial Gronewold reports for EENews:

To a round of applause, 146 state legislators approved H.B. 4, which would finance a new fund to begin investing in new infrastructure and other projects by dipping into the state’s so-called rainy day fund. The $2 billion that would be taken from the rainy day fund for the water plan is just a down payment toward TWDB’s call for some $53 billion in spending over the next 40 years, $27 billion of which is expected to come directly from the state government.

Does it get better? Yes! Allan Ritter, the Republican state representative who introduced the bill, even dropped the “s” word (via StateImpact Texas):

“As Mother Nature has reminded us in the last couple of years, we can’t change the weather,” Ritter said at the outset of the hearing, “but with sound science and far-sighted planning, we can conserve and develop supply to meet our future demands.”

Again, I think conservatism (small “c’), in the true sense of the word, is not at odds with environmentalism, with both valuing efficiency and stewardship of resources.

David Wogan About the Author: An engineer and policy researcher who writes about energy, technology, and policy - and everything in between. Based in Austin, Texas. Comments? Follow on Twitter @davidwogan.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. OgreMk5 11:03 am 04/2/2013

    Most of the legislators probably spent the last few months investing in construction companies.

    Living in the Austin area, I appreciate their efforts. However, the Texas legislature rarely does anything without some benefit to themselves.

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  2. 2. HubertB 5:09 pm 04/6/2013

    John Wesley Powell predicted Water Rights would turn large patches of the United States into desert. Today global warming is turning those exact patches where Water Rights exist into desert. Something must be done about global warming.

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