Environment Texas statement on Governor’s signing of HB 4

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Environment Texas

Today, Governor Perry signed landmark water legislation in to law. In addition to revamping the state water board and creating a new water infrastructure fund, HB 4 more than doubles the state’s investment in water conservation. The bill directs that 20 percent of the funding go towards water conservation measures and another 10 percent go towards rural projects, for which agricultural water conservation projects also qualify. The 2012 State Water Plan calls for just 11 percent of state funding to go towards conservation, but with the passage of HB 4, as much as 30 percent of the funding will now be directed to water-saving measures.  
“We applaud Governor Perry for signing this historic bill in to law,” said Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger. “The drought has underscored that we can’t continue with business as usual and HB 4 wisely makes a big increase in conservation as a strategy towards meeting Texas’ water needs. But the job doesn’t end there. Our rivers – and the recreationalists and wildlife that depend on them, are suffering. We call on the Governor to appoint water board members who will maximize conservation and work to protect our precious rivers.”
Environment Texas today announced the launch of a door to door campaign to press the Governor to direct the Texas Water Development Board to maximize investments in conservation and avoid funding water projects with significant environmental harm. The group also released a letter (attached) to the Governor signed by more than 80 legislators, non-profit leaders, small business owners, farmers and faith leaders urging the Governor to pursue a “balanced solution that improves the efficiency of water use and leaves more water in our rivers and aquifers to support the ecosystems that depend on water”.   
The group also highlighted two other water conservation bills awaiting the Governor’s signature. SB 198 blocks homeowners associations from preventing members from installing drought-resistant landscaping. HB 1461 requires water utilities to tell their customers how much water they lose to leaking pipes. If he signs HB 4 as expected, the Governor will appoint three new board members of the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB). Environment Texas will hold a press conference outside the Governor’s mansion tomorrow at noon to discuss next steps for water in Texas.