House Natural Resources Committee [HNRC]
– Gerdes/ Perry
Relating to water loss in water delivery systems for certain municipally owned water
SAWDF and concerned citizens initially drafted HB 4445 as our response to last year’s testimony which revealed that more than 500,000 acre-feet per year [AFY] of water is lost in municipal water systems across the state.
Representative Stan Gerdes will present a committee substitute for the bill—the substitute results from negotiations with the large utilities that will be subject to the
legislation. SAWDF’s quick review of the committee substitute suggests this
legislation could save more than 125,000 AFY. That would reduce the need for
two to three large-scale water export projects like Vista Ridge!
Representative Gerdes has asked that any verbal testimony be concise so the HNRC can complete their deliberations by 10 AM. We’ll have our signature water droplet buttons, and we look forward to seeing you there! We encourage you to submit written comments electronically, whether or not you are able to attend the hearing.
While we don’t have the final language of the bill, here are some talking points that support the need for this legislation:
· Senate and House testimony in 2022 revealed that more than 500,000 acre-feet per year [AFY] of water is lost in municipal water supply systems
· One-half of that amount is lost by utilities with 150,000 connections or more that exceed the Texas Water Development Board’s threshold of 30 gallons per connection per day [GPCD]. The cost to customers is more than $150 million per year.
· Encouraging these utilities to reduce municipal water loss may conserve more than 125,000 AFY of water and save customers more than $65 million
Texas residents who wish to electronically submit comments related to agenda items on this notice without testifying in person can do so until the hearing adjourns. Comments submitted electronically are limited to 3,000 characters [about one typed page]
Relating to security required before filing suit against a groundwater conservation district.
SAWDF has serious questions regarding HB 2735, which is on the HNRC agenda for Tuesday, April 25. The legislation requires “a district by rule shall establish the amount of security required to file suit under Section 36.251 challenging a rule or order made by the district, including an appeal of a decision on a permit application.” The maximum is a $100,000 bond. Such a bond can cost up to $20,000! The appeal bond would be in addition to legal fees and expert witness(es)!
The “LPGCD mitigation bill” was heard in HNRC last week and is awaiting a vote by the committee to send it to the House floor. SAWDF is confident it will move forward.
Texas House of Representatives
Filed on behalf of stakeholders in HD 17, HB 5052 requires GCDs to consider "exempt wells" (domestic & livestock) when making permit decisions. It was reported favorably by the HNRC and placed on the General State Calendar for Wednesday, April 26, 2023. Be sure to tune in to a live video broadcast.
Other favorable bills that passed out of the HNRC:
The following bills were reported favorably by HNRC and are waiting to be placed on a House calendar for a vote. SAWDF supports each of these bills.
In the Senate
This bill allows GCDs to raise export fees to 20 cents perthousand gallons. In addition, it gives GCDs mitigation authority to
accommodate future drawdown from groundwater production. HB 3059 was voted out of House and received by the Senate. It was referred to the Water, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs committee. SAWDF supports this legislation.
More dates for your calendar
LCRA Permit for Griffith League Ranch
Reminder to the Brown Landowners and others interested in the ongoing LCRA permit:
April 26, 804 Pecan Street Bastrop, TX 78602
Judge Reva Towslee-Corbett’s Courtroom, time 2 PM (starting time for docket ---we think we are only hearing on her calendar but won’t know for sure til April 24 (Monday) – we will update if necessary)
Judge Corbett will consider two matters related to the lawsuit (“appeal”) by LCRA filed against Lost Pines. The other parties who contested LCRA's permit, including the Brown Landowners, are seeking to intervene in that lawsuit to have some involvement in the proceeding. Still, they all also want LCRA's appeal to be dismissed entirely. We don't know in what order the Judge will
consider the following:
- a "plea to the jurisdiction" motion brought against LCRA, which asks the Judge to rule she doesn't have jurisdiction because of procedural failures by LCRA; and
- a motion asking the Judge to reconsider her earlier, surprise ruling in March striking intervention by other parties to the contested case.
We hope you will be in our local district judge's courtroom that day. (J. Corbett presides over Bastrop, Lee, Burleson, and Washington counties in her 335thDistrict Court.)
Written comments due to LPGCD on May 3, 2023
RE: Proposed Rules
P.O. Box 1027
Smithville, TX 78957
You can email or write Andy Wier with questions regarding the proposed rules.