In recent weeks, several House and Senate standing committees have held public hearings on interim charges. The 86th Texas Legislature convenes January 8, 2019 and the last day (sine die) is May 27, 2019.
The House Committee on Natural Resources has the following water-related charges to consider:
- Progress and challenges in encouraging coordination and consistency in aquifer-wide management and permitting practices;
- Developments in case law regarding groundwater ownership and regulation; Potential improvements to the existing groundwater permitting process, including those contemplated in H.B. 31 (85R);
- The appropriate consideration of the service area of a water supplier when groundwater resources are allocated based on surface ownership;
- The designation of brackish groundwater production zones and related research;
- Groundwater data and science needs; and
- Emerging issues in groundwater and surface water interaction, in particular in areas of increasing competition for scarce resources.
- Examine the status of water markets in Texas and the potential benefits of and challenges to expanded markets for water.
- Examine the potential value, the necessary elements, and the implications of a broad-based information and awareness campaign regarding water issues in Texas. Consider input from water stakeholders, educators, and communications experts.
- Study the hazards presented by abandoned and deteriorated groundwater wells, and make recommendations to address the contamination and other concerns these wells may represent.
Interim hearings have been held recently in Brady and Canyon. The Brady hearing examined emerging issues in groundwater and surface water interaction--especially relating to the San Saba river. The Canyon hearing focused on brackish groundwater production zones, groundwater regulation, private property rights, and groundwater data and science needs.
Upcoming hearings will be held in Brownsville, Sept. 12; Del Rio, Sept. 26; Waco, Oct. 18; and Austin, sometime in December.
The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, and Rural Affairs has the following water-related charges to consider:
- Streamlining Water Permitting: Study and recommend changes that promote streamlining of water right permit issuance and the amendment process by the TCEQ for surface water, and that promote uniform and streamline permitting by groundwater conservation districts for groundwater. Evaluate more transparent process needs and proper valuation of water.
- Regulatory Framework of Groundwater Conservation Districts and River Authorities: Study and make recommendations on the regulatory framework for managing groundwater in Texas to ensure that private property rights are being sufficiently protected. Study the role of river authorities and groundwater conservation districts including the state's oversight role of their operations and fees imposed.