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State leaders at the TWDB's Water for Texas 2023 conference Posted on January 26, 2023

TWDB Chairwoman Brooke Paup on the Water for Texas 2023 conference

"The Water for Texas conference is so special to me because it's an event that brings water stakeholders from across the country to one event where we can have very candid and insightful conversations about water policy."

More than 600 attendees, speakers, sponsors, and legislators attended the sold-out Water for Texas 2023 conference, “Connecting H2Opportunities,” hosted by the Texas Water Development Board January 23-25 in Austin for in-depth discussions on water conservation, infrastructure, investment, desalination, and more. Read more here.

Soundbites from Texas legislators

Comptroller Glenn Hegar on the need to update aging water infrastructure

Glenn Hegar - Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

"One of the things people do every single morning when they wake up is what? They use water. They're going to use water in the morning. They're going to use it throughout the day. In Texas, every single day we have another thousand people that call Texas home. There's half of that moves here, half of that natural growth. So with the growth that we have in the state of Texas, we have to continue to invest in our water infrastructure, our road infrastructure, all of our infrastructure. And so, that's one of the key pieces is continuing to stay up with. And then also, we have several systems that, unfortunately, are very antiquated. They're very old city systems that need to be updated. So we don't have leakage in pipes, which causes more loss, and that's water that we actually need in the system, not leaking out of old pipes. And so, therefore, it's a combination of all these things."

Senator Charles Perry on the need to increase funding for water-related projects

Charles Perry - Texas State Senator, District 28

"The cheapest way to ensure more water for today is to fix what we got today, so it's not leaking part of it. That estimate ranges from--I think it was $190 billion up to a possible $400 billion problem. It's scattered out amongst all the municipal water distribution systems and rural water systems. And so, this fund, it's a $2 billion ask specifically for that, to do some conservation education, but mainly to go out and leverage local districts that are facing this challenge and give them some leverage on how they borrow money or how they can fix it. It's geared towards mid-level to rural initiatives because they're the ones that are financially strapped because of tax bases being lower than they should be or can be or about the reality of their tax base. I hope the state can leverage through existing Texas Water Development Board programs, so it doesn't take a whole new regimen of rules, promulgation, and hearings, and public comment, and it'll put the money on the street pretty quickly. And so that's how you start your water supply conversation, keep what you got longer and then go out and develop things that you haven't yet."

Senator Drew Springer says water becomes more and more important

Drew Springer - Texas State Senator, District 30

"Every session, water becomes more and more important. When I first came in, we were in a drought, so it was getting the attention. I've represented and been around Wichita Falls when they were running out of water, and they were using re-use water, and we were coming up with programs there. I've represented old rural communities that haven't kept up with their infrastructure, and we've seen the consequences of that when we don't do maintenance on a continual basis. Now I represent high-growing, fast-growth areas like Frisco, Texas. That's gone from just a few thousand to over 225,000 people. Water is important to every one of those Texans. And so, making sure that we're doing the right things to continue to see Texas grow and prosper has to include water. And I think everybody takes it very seriously in the legislature."

Representative Tracy O. King on the need to ensure a secure water future for Texans

Tracy O. King - Texas State Representative, District 80

"We have a long-term drought going on, and everybody knows that the weather patterns on the face of the earth are changing and they've always been changing. So that's nothing new. That's no surprise. But you've got an increasing population in the state of Texas. You've got increasing water needs, and you have aging infrastructure throughout the state of Texas and throughout the nation, for that matter. And we happen to have a fairly good budget situation this time. And so I think it's time to bring all those things together and direct a significant amount of funding towards the aging infrastructure in the state of Texas."

Representative Cody Harris highlights water issues as a top priority for legislature

Cody Harris - Texas State Representative, District 8

"We're in a very unique position in this legislature where we have a massive surplus. So we're able to invest in things that normally might not take priority. And now, coming off of the drought that we're coming out of with the surplus that we have, now is the time to seriously talk about making water a priority for the future, for the state. And, you know, I think we have buy-in from both chambers. I know that the speaker is wholly committed to infrastructure and water policy, water security, moving forward. I think now is the perfect time. It's the perfect storm in a good way for us to make water issues a top priority for the legislature."

B-roll footage of the Water for Texas 2023 conference

This is b-roll video footage of the Water for Texas 2023 conference. This footage is available for use by the media courtesy of the Texas Water Development Board.

This article is posted in Water Planning / Flood / Financial Assistance / Drought / Water Supply .