Texas must invest billions to secure long-term water resources, report shows

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Monday, July 3, 2023
Report shows billions needed to fix water issues across Texas
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A report shows that an $80 billion investment by 2070 will be needed to make sure Texans have enough water.

The Texas Water Development Board is a state entity whose mission is to make sure we have enough water for a very long time.

The board says it'll require an $80 billion investment by 2070 to make sure that happens, and that number doesn't account for inflation.

Michael Turco, who's the general manager of the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District, says we need to act now.

"Increasing and improving our infrastructure is important for our demand today," Turco said. "And the demand that's coming tomorrow."

State lawmakers concur as a plan was agreed upon in the most recent legislative session that would see $1 billion being spent on water infrastructure repair and creating alternative water sources and conservation efforts.

RELATED: This Week in Texas: A look into the politics of water in the state

That's pending a statewide vote in November, but it's likely to pass per Jasper Scherer, who is a state politics reporter with our partners at the Houston Chronicle.

"I expect it to pass pretty overwhelmingly based on polling," Scherer said. "There isn't any organized opposition to this."

The Texas Water Development Board says the state loses more than 130 billion gallons of water each year due to leaky pipes, so repairing those leaks is one thing that money would be spent on should the vote pass.

The other thing it would go towards is creating water sources aside from ground and surface water.

Possibilities include making saltwater drinkable, using wastewater from oil wells, and refilling neglected aquafers.

These funds will primarily go towards rural areas, as they have less money. So Houston won't be a priority for any of these projects.

"I think the idea here is to get things started and get the ball rolling," Turco said.

In the long-term, getting to $80 billion will require a lot of work and money, but Scherer said there is reason to believe that could be the case in the state legislature moving forward.

"It seems that there's going to be some sort of investment in this by necessity," he said. "It's just a matter of whether the money is going to be there. For a state this big, there's a lot of other ways to spend money, so it's kind of a big question mark at the moment."

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