Speaker Dennis Bonnen issued interim charges to the 35 standing committees of the Texas House of Representatives on Nov. 25.
Most groundwater related legislation is heard before the Committee on Natural Resources.
1) The Committee on Natural Resources will monitor the agencies and programs under its jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 86th Legislature.
It will also conduct active oversight of all associated rulemaking and other governmental actions taken to ensure intended outcome of all legislation, including the following:
▪ HJR 4, SB 7, and SB 8, which relate to statewide and regional flood planning and mitigation. Monitor the progress of the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and other entities to provide for the planning, development, and financing of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects statewide to strengthen the state's infrastructure and resiliency to future floods.
▪ HB 720, which relates to appropriations of water for recharge of aquifers and use in aquifer storage and recovery projects. Monitor the rulemaking process for the permitting of unappropriated flows for aquifer storage and recovery projects by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
▪ HB 721, which relates to reports on aquifer storage and recovery and aquifer recharge projects. Monitor the implementation by the TWDB of legislation to encourage the development of aquifer storage and recovery and aquifer recharge projects, including the completion of a statewide study of the state's aquifers' suitability for aquifer storage and recovery and aquifer recharge projects.
▪ HB 722, which relates to the development of brackish groundwater. Monitor the designation of Brackish Groundwater Production Zones by the TWDB and the adoption of rules by groundwater conservation districts for the production of brackish groundwater from those Zones.
▪ HB 807, which relates to the state and regional water planning process. Monitor the appointment of the Interregional Planning Council by the TWDB and the Council's progress toward increasing coordination among Regional Water Planning Groups.
2) Study the efforts of the TCEQ, the TWDB, and the Public Utility Commission of Texas to incentivize, promote, and preserve regional projects to meet water supply needs and encourage public and private investment in water infrastructure.
Identify impediments or threats to regionalization with special emphasis on: prioritization in planning and implementing the State Water Plan, Regional Water Plan, and other recommended water supply projects; barriers to private investment and the development of public-private partnerships to implement needed water supply projects, including the retail water and wastewater industry, to address the state's growth challenges; public water and wastewater systems that are unable to meet federal and state standards due to inadequate operational capacity and factors that prevent such systems from being integrated into larger systems and processes that more easily facilitate the sale, transfer, or merger of systems; and state agency authority to regulate regional water supply pricing.
3) Monitor the joint planning process for groundwater and the achievement of the desired conditions for aquifers by groundwater conservation districts.
4) Monitor the State Auditor's review of agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction. The Chair shall seek input and periodic briefings on completed audits for the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years and bring forth pertinent issues for full committee consideration.
Each charge will be studied and recommendations offered before the start of the 87th Texas Legislature on Jan. 12, 2021.