Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Drought emphasizes need for action now

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Oct. 7, 2013 at 5:07 a.m.

After years of enduring drought conditions across Texas, it is past time for state lawmakers to create a plan to safeguard the water supply.

In the upcoming constitutional amendment election Nov. 5, Proposition 6 offers a possible solution to Texas' water shortage problems. According to the Texas Secretary of State website, Prop. 6 reads: "The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas to assist in the financing of priority projects in the state water plan to ensure the availability of adequate water resources."

Outside all the official wording, Prop. 6 would allow the state to withdraw $2 billion from the Economic Stabilization Fund, aka the "Rainy Day Fund," and use it to establish a State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT), according to the Texas Future website. The money will be used to help create a system that will promote water conservation and reuse and other methods for public entities to develop and manage water supplies.

Texas needs this. The drought that began in 2011 has revealed how essential water is for our state. Our society is used to the convenience of a seemingly unending water supply. We turn on a faucet or flush a toilet, and the water instantly flows. Even during times when water restrictions are enforced, the flow doesn't stop.

But the truth is our state is in desperate need of a strong effort to safeguard and develop our water supply. Prop. 6 offers the first step in creating a fund specifically aimed at protecting and maintaining Texas' water supply to meet the needs of future growth and development. Our state has had nine State Water Plans since 1961, with the most recent in 2012. The current plan includes about 4,500 proposed projects to address Texas' water needs. These projects include plans for reuse, conservation, new reservoirs, development of new groundwater supplies, desalination and more. Each of these strategies could help address Texas' need for an increased water supply. In the Gulf Coast region, desalinization could be a particularly useful resource that is not currently being implemented enough.

We encourage voters to take part in the next election and give Prop. 6 their approval. Any long-term Texas resident can tell you our state goes through cycles of drought. We would be fools not to take action now before a truly serious shortage strikes.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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