The pace of the real estate business in Central Texas has kept me from writing for too long. I hope to get back to regular commentary on the housing industry soon, but we have an urgent need that requires for me to write now:
Some of you know that I have invested time over the past two years with ABoR Government Affairs, aimed at getting the Texas Water Plan funded. The time has come, and I am writing to encourage your vote FOR Proposition 6 on the November 5, 2013 ballot. (Or sooner … early voting begins on 10/21.)
We are all personally familiar with the impact of this historic drought in Central Texas. Even after significant rainfall recently, much of it in the right places to feed the Highland Lakes, the amount of water stored in Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan has increased from 33% to 34% of capacity. Austin Water and Wastewater is making plans for even more stringent rationing than we have seen before, and all Central Texans are feeling the strain.
But what if Samsung decided to expand again and couldn’t get the necessary water permits? What it your favorite home builder/developer hit that wall too? Will employers continue relocating to Central Texas if housing availability and industrial infrastructure become long-term constraints because there simply isn’t enough water? Even the “anti-growth-ers” among us should agree that this is the wrong way to manage growth downward.
As the most vibrant regional economy in Texas, we certainly understand what growth has meant to our area, and how drought has affected us. Other parts of the state are in much more dire conditions, with reservoirs at less than 10% of capacity and groundwater harder to reach and use.
CONSIDER: The population of Texas is expected to double in the next 40 years! Water is the key to supporting that growth successfully.
The Texas Water Plan includes 16 separate plans developed by Regional Water Planning Groups. The Water Plan has existed since the late 1990s, but was never funded in any coordinated way. In the 2013 legislative session, an infrastructure bank was created, to be administered by the Texas Water Development Board. No money was deposited into that bank, though. That’s why voting FOR Proposition 6 is so important!
If you haven’t already, you will hear unfortunate misinformation about this proposition. Here are some facts:
- Proposition 6 allocates $2 billion from the State’s “rainy day” fund to the water projects infrastructure bank.
- It provides a source for cities and counties and water districts to apply for loans to allow execution of specific water projects designed and prioritized by local planners. Funds will not be grants. They will be loans, and must be repaid.
- Conservation and water reuse are significant components in the plan — more than 60% of the “new” water supply in Region K, where we live and depend on the Highland Lakes.
- Statewide, the identified need for water projects is more than $50 billion! This infrastructure bank allows a $2 billion initial deposit to be leveraged many times over in the coming decades, and leaves project control in local hands.
- Revenue forecasters project that income to the state from the boom in oil and gas production will replenish the rainy day fund in less than 2 years, and keep it at or near its statutory limit for years to come.
- Proposition 6 does not increase taxes. Local water planners, and taxpayers in the affected areas, will decide how much money to borrow, how to spend it, and how to pay it back.
This is important: Vote FOR Proposition 6 on November 5!