News Column

Water Plan Offered for Rio Grande Valley

March 18, 2013

Ed Asher

Water issues are reaching a fever pitch this year as the Rio Grande Valley, along with the rest of the state, grapples with the long-running drought.

Cities like Raymondville and Lyford are under mandatory water restrictions as leaders look for money to buy more water and state grants to dig wells.

Just this past week, lawmakers took the first step to tapping Texas' Rainy Day Fund to finance up to $2 billion in water projects across the state.

Now a state environmental group is set to release a report on what it calls the potential for water conservation in Texas.

The report is expected to calculate "a way to meet our state's growing water needs and protect species like the whooping crane," the Austin-based nonprofit Environment Texas Research and Policy Center said.

The group will release its report Tuesday at an event at Dean Porter Park in Brownsville, set to start at 10 a.m.

The Rio Grande Delta chapter of the Audubon Society and Healthy Communities of Brownsville are also expected to attend the event.

The report comes as the Legislature considers funding a state water plan. Members of the House Natural Resources Committee on Thursday approved a plan that would take money from the state's Rainy Day Fund and create the Water Infrastructure Fund of Texas, intended to leverage bond financing for new reservoirs, pipelines, desalination plants and conservation projects.

The Environment Texas report also comes a week after a federal judge ordered state officials to put the needs of an endangered flock of whooping cranes first when determining whether to grant new water-use permits for the Guadalupe and San Antonio rivers.

That ruling could have widespread implications for water management in the state, Environment Texas said.

Source: (c)2013 Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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