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Over-arching strategies:

Empower Local Authority – Groundwater districts and county governments need legislative authority to manage resources, land development practices and to respond to local growth related issues.

Conserve More Land – Keep families on the land with incentives and purchase of development rights programs that conserve our cultural heritage and protect our regional water supply. Support funding for parks.

Sustain Water Supplies – Promote a conservative approach to funding the State Water Plan that emphasizes efficiency and conservation first. Promote policies that manage water within water catchment areas and that ensure healthy flowing springs. Prevent water pollution rather than react to it by creating and enforcing rules that keep waterways natural and pure. Encourage water conservation and rainwater harvesting. Acknowledge the connection between groundwater and surface water and support policy changes that recognize this essential science.

Helpful HCA Issue Resource Pages: Groundwater, Water Quality, Water Planning, Water Conservation, County Authority, Scenic Beauty

Three excellent water conservation reports make the case for a State Water Plan rooted in conservation first:
7 Ways to Reduce Outdoor Water UseSt. Augustine Fact SheetAn Assessment of Water Conservation

Great for the Hill Country

SB 1169 – Hager: Good for water conservation. Strengthens the role of the state Water Conservation Advisory Council, addresses drought contingency plans. Passed the Senate, altered signficantly on the House floor.

HB 3924 – Miller: Had potential to create a Chapter 36 full county Groundwater Conservation District for Comal County. Started out a good bill but the substitute didn’t have the same support from stakeholders. Passed the House and died in the Senate.

SB 198 – Watson: Limits homeowners associations from preventing native and water-wise landscapes or installing rainwater harvesting systems. Voted favorably out of both Houses – sent to the Gov.

SB 589 – Hegar/Miller: Designates certain Hill Country river or stream segments as being of unique ecological value. Passed the Senate, Died in Natural Resources. Read HCA Comments for Support

HB 589 – Howard: Subjects the Lower Colorado River Authority to Sunset Review. Never made it out of House Natural Resources.

HB 1461 – Aycock: Requires customer notification of significant water loss by a retail public utility. Passed, on it’s way to the Governor

HB 105 and HB 162 – Representative Larson: Would allocate funding for Texas Parks. Both left pending.

HB 2046 and SB 1024 – Workman/Watson: Initiates a study of water quality management in the contributing zone of the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer. Both left pending in Committee.

SB 1819 – Deuell; Would not allow a sand mine within 3 miles of a property using GW for drinking water supply. Left in Natural Resources.

HB 2781 – Fletcher: Advances rainwater harvesting and other water conservation initiatives – Supported by John Kight. Passed, on its way to the Governor.

HB 1473 – Rodriguez: This is the famous “Bottle Bill.” Establishes a 5-cent deposit-refund system that would encourage people to turn in and recycle plastic and glass containers, see Left pending in Committee. Read More

HB 1135 – Villarreal: Sets in motion a plan for encouraging native seed production and use for land restoration projects. Read more from the Rivard Reporthere. Voted out of House Agriculture and Livestock Committee, passed the House, left pending in Senate Transportation Committee.

Worth learning about:

HB 4 – Ritter: Chairman Ritter’s proposal to create a special fund (SWIFT) to administer 2 billion to spend on water supply projects. Passed both houses, sent to the Governor. Read HCA’s comments related to Water Plan Funding.

SB 302 – Seliger: Relating to the management, operation, rulemaking authority and oversight of groundwater conservation districts. Passed the Senate, left pending in House Natural Resources.

SB 272 – Seliger: Would help GCD’s by gathering information from water well owners regarding usage. Passed the Senate, left pending in House Natural Resources.


HB 3234 Ritter – Modifies the water rights permitting process in ways that would undermine adequate review and scrutiny of water rights permit applications and make it more difficult for environmental and landowner concerns to be addressed properly in the process. Passed the House, left pending in Senate Natural Resources. Read comments by Ken Kramer of Sierra Club.

HB 824 – Callegari: Eliminates the requirement that all accidental spills or discharges from a wastewater discharge be reported to TCEQ in 24 hours (sets a threshold for reporting at 1000 gallons or more). Voted out of House Natural Resources Committee, passed the House, left pending in Senate Natural Resources. Read GEAA’s resent study on sewage spills on the Hill Country here. Read Sierra Club’s concerns about HB 824 here.

SB 1894 – Fraser: Prevents revisions to the “environmental flows” standards until at least 2022. This hurts the valuable planning process currently in place to protect instream flows and freshwater inflows keeping our river systems healthy. Left in Senate Natural Resources Committee.

HB 890 – Workman: Converts the West Travis PUA to the Hill Country Regional Water Authority providing bonding authority and ease for expanding water infrastructure projects in West Travis and Northern Hays Counties. The bill died on the House floor.

HB 822 – Gutierrez, Roland: Would amend the EAA Act to state that the EAA may allow a permit holder to construct, acquire, or own facilities for transporting groundwater out of Uvalde County. Also see HCA’s resolution about groundwater transports. Left in Natural Resources Committee.

HB 1796 – Isaac: limits GCD ability to manage groundwater in changing conditions. Substitute reported favorably in House Natural Resources Committee, never voted on the House floor.

HB 3087 – Workman: This bill limits the ability of a county to enact and enforce water quality regulations. It also uses the term “Conservation Easement” inappropriately. Referred to Land and Resource Management.

HB 2640 – Workman: This bill creates a limited GCD for a portion of Western Travis County. During the last session Representative Workman filed legislation to remove W. Travis from the PGMA. This legislation carves out multiple municipalities from the proposed district which does not make hydrological sense. The bill also does not demonstrate the ability to fund itself and goes against specific recommendations made by TCEQ to either create a larger more regional district or annex this area into a neighboring GCD. Passed out of House Special Districts Committee, died in Local and Consent,. More background on this issue here.

HB 3918 – Isaac: Creates a large, 5000 acre MUD, entitling devlopment along the Blanco River in Hays County, strongly opposed by the local community and county elected officials. Passed House Special Purpose Districts, sent to Local and Consent. Strongly opposed by the community

SB 957 – Fraser: This bill practically removes the “Contested Case Hearing” process from the TCEQ permitting process. Property owners, constituents, businesses and local governments would lose their ability to voice concerns before a permit is granted. The Senate version voted out committee, no vote on the Senate floor.

Legislative News

While we update our website regularly with Hill Country specific information, Texas Tribune Online is an extremely valuable resource for up to the minute news from the Leg.

The Texas Tribune also has excellent data resources to help you learn more including a directory of elected officials, super PACs, campaign finance sources, explore more on your own at Texas Tribune Data.

Must Read:

Under the surface – The legislature was looking in the wrong place when it tried to solve the state’s water crisis
“Local conservation districts, democratic institutions that allow regional interests to control their own fate, should be permitted to continue their work. But they must be empowered by the Legislature to do their jobs properly, which will never happen as long as private property rights are allowed to trump all other considerations.” Read the full story from Texas Monthly.

A Conservative Approach to Funding Water Needs – HCA comments submitted to House and Senate Natural Committee Members
We believe a sensible conservation strategy can meet most, if not all, of the future water needs of Texas. On the municipal side, successful conservation programs in San Antonio and El Paso are positive examples where aggressive water conservation met the water needs for populations that doubled in size, but maintained constant water use. Relying on a sensible conservation strategy to achieve Texas’ future water needs will be significantly less harmful to the ecologies and economies of Texas’ aquifer supplies, property values of private land owners, environmental in-flows, and bay and estuaries when compared with reservoir and pipeline construction and inter-basin transfers. Download Comments

Behind the scary water headlines
It’s hard to look at any media in Texas today without being confronted by a dire outlook on the state’s water future. The jarring effects of a deep drought and the steep price tag attached to the state’s water plan definitely make for attention-grabbing copy. But for those who care about sustainable management of our limited water resources, property rights and fiscal discipline in the state budget, it’s worth a look behind those headlines. More from Mary Kelly, published in

You & the State water Plan – Water For Texas 2012
Milan Michalec, President of the HCA Board of Directors, takes a look at water issues ahead of the 2013 legislative session. “Ground and surface water supplies originate with the rain that falls on the land and in turn, this water is captured by complex, large-scale ecological processes involving many variables, including plants, animals, soils and geology. We are every bit an integral part of the water cycle.” Read Milan’s four-part commentary.

More Headlines:

Hill Country Alliance information about Proposition 6

A Sustainable Water Plan for Texas

Billboard bill goes unfiled

GEAA reports some legislative success

LCRA, Parks and other Legislative outcomes

Local Parks Matter!

Water Bill Falters After Contentious House Debate

Concerned Hays County citizens gather to discuss Needmore Ranch MUD

Limiting Environmental Regs Raises Fears of ‘Race to the Bottom’

It’s time for a Texas bottle bill, but crusade meets with little enthusiasm in Austin

Statesman Editorial calls out Austin bashing bills

Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance releases Legislative Agenda for the 83rd Session

Winemiller: The real cost of the Texas drought

Legislation Would Require Water Well Owners to Report Usage

Major Water Funding Bill Moves One Step Forward, Prioritizes Conservation

Leurig: Conservation is conservative approach to solving Texas water problems

Bill filed to help preserve rivers in Uvalde, Comal and San Marcos counties

New study shows positive economic impact through a Texas beverage container deposit recycling program

Texas Mayors Stress Need For More Water Conservation and Less Red Tape

Statesman Article examines who benefits from the “Fund the Water Plan” campaign

Andy Sansom: “Action on Texas Water needed Now”

Texas Lawmaker Seeks Overhaul of Water Board

Finding Water Amid Drought

Texas Water Plan Is Funded, Where Will The Money Go?

With another legislative session under way, state parks are in jeopardy — at least in theory

Senator Watson files bill for native landscaping

Lawmaker moves forward to start funding water plan

Groundwater Policy Recommendations from the Texas Center for Policy Studies

New Legislative Budget Board Staff Report Underscores the Role of Water Conservation and Drought Response in Meeting Texas Water Needs

Texas Drought Pushes Lawmakers to Focus on Water in New Session

Lawmakers Talk of Bold Measures This Session

Hill Country Legislators – Senate

Kirk Watson, District 14: Travis
Carlos Uresti, District 19: Bandera, Medina, Real, Uvalde, Edwards
Troy Fraser, District 24: Burnet, Blanco, Llano, Gillespie, Mason, Kimble, Kerr
JDonna Campbell, District 25: Hays, Travis, Comal, Kendall, Bexar
Leticia Van de Putte, District 26: Bexar

Hill Country Legislators – House

Marsha Farney, District 20: Burnet, Milam, Williamson
Jason Isaac, District 45: Hays, Blanco, Caldwell
Paul Workman, District 47: Travis
Donna Howard, District 48: Travis
Harvey Hilderbran, District 53: Crockett, Sutton, Schliecher, Real, Kerr, Kimble, Menard, Mason, Llano, San Saba, McCulloch, Concho, Coleman, Runnels, Callahan
Doug Miller, District 73: Gillespie, Kendall, Comal, Bandera
Tracy King, District 80: Kinney, Maverick, Zavala, Dimmit, La Salle, Frio, Medina
Trey Martinez Fischer, District 116: Bexar
Joe Straus, District 121: Bexar (Speaker)
Lyle Larson, District 122: Bexar
Mike Villarreal, District 123: Bexar


Helpful Links

Enhance State Participation in Municipal Water Conservation Part of the LBB staff’s Texas State Government Effectiveness and Efficiency Report (January 2013).
Take a look back at the previous legislative session held in 2011
Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Day – What the Supreme Court Did (and did not) say about groundwater in Texas
Summary of recommendations in the House Natural Resources Committee Interim Report
Full House Natural Resources Committee Interim Report
Who Represents Me? – Look up your legislators using this online tool.
Texas Tribune Inside the Legislature – A helpful guide around the Capitol from the Texas Tribune.
Texas Legislature Home Page – Look up the full text and status of bills, find scheduled hearings and see how your legislators voted.
Texas League of Conservation Voters – Working to preserve and enhance the quality of life of Texans by making environmental conservation a top priority with Texas elected officials, political candidates and voters.

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