Water for Texas: Vote ‘Yes’ on Proposition 6!

By Kenneth Dierschke

Water grows Texas.

It always has. Water grows families. Water grows jobs. Water grows food.

Yet Texas is thirsty. Many years of drought have left us with withered lawns, parched pastures and shrinking water supplies. Surface water levels have dropped to 60 percent of capacity and Texas grows thirstier by the day.  A possibility that we turn on the tap and nothing comes out is finally dawning on us. We are realizing the precious resource we’ve always taken for granted is actually limited indeed.

Nothing is more important to Texas’ future than a reliable supply of clean water. And Texans can take a giant step toward ensuring those supplies by voting “Yes” on Proposition 6 on Nov. 5.

If approved, Proposition 6 would authorize $2 billion to create a self-sustaining account to finance water resource programs which will ensure the availability of adequate water for the next 50 years. Those funds would be dedicated solely to funding a comprehensive statewide water plan that enhances water supplies via infrastructure improvements, surface water enhancements, desalination and conservation.

Proposition 6 allows Texas to meet its future water needs.

  • Proposition 6 will help cities that have been short of water during this current drought to develop conservation plans and new sources of supply so the well doesn’t run dry again.
  • Proposition 6 will allow adequate water to meet the needs of businesses and industries that grow jobs for the Lone Star State.
  • Proposition 6 will allow farmers and ranchers and small communities a chance to invest in infrastructure, conservation and development so Texas agriculture remains strong and rural communities are not left behind.

What Proposition 6 does not do is raise taxes.

Throughout Texas history, droughts have been prevalent, leaving deep scars on those who suffered through them. The 1930s Dust Bowl and 1950s drought still evoke images of despair.  State leaders during the 1950s drought made important investments in water resources to protect against future shortages.

Few could have imagined, however, that Texas would grow from roughly 8 million citizens to over 25 million today, and an expected 46 million by 2050. Those 46 million people will use an additional 2.7 trillion gallons of water.

Unless we follow the lead of our forefathers in preparing for the future, prospects for our great state are dim.

We can do nothing, fight about dwindling resources in the future and watch our economy stagnate. Or we can work together, assure adequate water supplies for Texas for the next 50 years and continue our shining economic growth.

One of nine propositions on the ballot, Proposition 6, if passed, will secure water for Texas families, jobs and agriculture.

Texas Farm Bureau supports Proposition 6. We view it as a serious investment in the future of the Lone Star State.

Water grows Texas. It always has. Cut it off and Texas withers.

Proposition 6 keeps the tap turned on. Our future is in our hands. Vote ‘Yes’ on Proposition 6.

Kenneth Dierschke is a cotton and grain farmer from San Angelo and president of Texas Farm Bureau.

11 Responses to “Water for Texas: Vote ‘Yes’ on Proposition 6!”

  1. Karen Telschow Johnson says:

    Where is the $2 billion coming from and what is it being spent on?
    Thanks for the information.

    • Mike Barnett says:

      Proposition 6 creates the funding mechanism to provide water for Texas. The actual projects are in the State Water Plan http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/waterplanning/swp/2012/, which is a compilation of projects composed by 16 regional planning groups across the state. Will all those projects be funded? No. The actual projects approval will be determined by need, political, environmental, legal and other issues.
      The $2 billion would be used to finance a self-sustaining fund. Taxpayers or ratepayers, whichever the case may be, would enjoy savings by spending less on financing and interest charges for the projects that help supply their water needs. Any withdrawals from the fund would have to be paid back, and the self-sustaining fund would be available to assist other projects. Interestingly, the Rainy Day Fund in its current capacity, is providing Texans much of the same benefit by helping Texas to enjoy favorable bond ratings. Current projections for the Rainy Day Fund, which is built from severance tax on oil and gas production, are for it to reach or stay near its mandated cap with or without the $2B proposed for the Water Fund.
      Hope this helps.

  2. Greg Blake says:

    As a rural farmer/rancher; the advise for a yes vote on Prop 6 by Mr. Dierschke should be examined more closely. Nobody can argue how many of Texas citizens have been affected by the recent droughts. Perhaps none more than the rural property owners, many whom rely on ground water for their subsistence for crops, livestock, and themselves. A closer look at how this State Water Plan will impact rural Texans should be examined. Every plan intended to divert water from existing aquifers to how prioritization of the projects should be put on the table in advance. Plans that would benefit developers in urban areas should be given the lowest priority and any plan that is intended for collection and retention would benefit the largest populous.

    • Mike Barnett says:

      Proposition 6 is strictly a funding mechanism. Actual projects will be selected or rejected based on need, political and environmental issues and other factors.

      • How and who is it that makes the actual selection of projects to be funded?

        • Mike Barnett says:

          The funds would be used to provide low-cost financing for projects in the state water plan-a plan created by local and regional entities, with the assistance of the state, to meet future water demands. Every five years 16 regional water planning groups assess the projected population and water demands and supplies in their areas over the next 50 years. Each region then compiles a regional water plan, and those plans are rolled up into the state water plan. The state water plan also includes important information on statewide trends and policy issues, and it lists the water supply strategies identified to meet the regional water shortages over the next 50 years. The 2012 State Water Plan contains numerous strategies to meet water needs during drought. Those strategies are the water supply projects that would be eligible for funding if Proposition 6 passes.

          Communities and utilities would apply to the Texas Water Development Board for financial assistance, and funds would be disbursed for projects in the state water plan. The TWDB would evaluate and prioritize projects for assistance based on a state and regional process. Many factors would be considered in this evaluation, including the number of people served, the urgency of the project, the ability of the local and regional sponsors to support the project, and the degree of conservation achieved—just to name a few prioritization criteria

      • Clifford Smith says:

        We have a funding mechanism already for water projects already. Which enjoy the interest rates of the Texas state credit rating. Which projects are approved, selected or rejected, by the locals who approve need/desire.
        We should not side step the voters.

        • Mike Barnett says:

          Clifford, I suppose you are talking about the $6 billion authorization which is capacity for entities to borrow through the Texas Water Development Board. The $2 billion is actual assistance from the state to help finance the projects local entities undertake.
          According to Texas Farm Bureau’s Ken Hodges, a good analogy would be having a line of credit at a store (the $6 billion authorization) or actual cash to buy things at the store (the $2 billion). Both the bond capacity and the state’s assistance need to work together.
          The $6 billion authorization has not been significantly tapped due the 2011 budget situation when the state committed very little general revenue to support new projects. That is part of the challenge with relying on general revenue to support projects: it has usually been a relatively small amount, and has always been sporadic and subject to competing demands in the budget. The future water needs of Texas demand better.

          • Clifford Smith says:

            [quote][b]Mike Barnett[/b]
            That is part of the challenge with relying on general revenue to support projects: it has usually been a relatively small amount, and has always been sporadic and subject to competing demands in the budget. The future water needs of Texas demand better.[/quote]
            General revenue to support projects ? If a local entity can not afford to pay for it, how will they pay it back ? Competing demands in the budget need to be prioritized.
            It is easy to get into debt. Much harder to get out of debt.

  3. Richard Lyons says:

    Will this proposition give state and local goverment the right to tax or meter home or ranch water wells?

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