I am pleased to provide remarks to the Committee on the Water Resources Development Act of 2004. The Committee’s leadership on this issue ensures that the nation’s water resources are managed responsibly. My remarks will focus on the magnitude of water supply needs in Texas and how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can play a role in meeting the challenges of ensuring adequate water supplies to meet the needs of the State’s people, economy and environment.
Texas Water Development Board
The Texas Water Development Board’s (Board) mission is to provide leadership, planning, financial assistance, information, and education for the conservation and responsible development of water for Texas. To accomplish its goals of planning for the state’s water resources and for providing affordable water and wastewater services, the Board provides water planning, data collection and dissemination, financial assistance and technical assistance services to the citizens of Texas.
In 1998, the Board initiated a regional water planning process to document the water supply needs in the State, and to develop water management strategies for meeting those needs. To ensure a bottom-up approach to planning, the State was divided into sixteen regional water planning groups. These planning groups are the foundation for developing strategies for meeting water needs across Texas.
State Water Plan
The State Water Plan, Water for Texas – 2002, is a grass roots approach to ensure future water supplies for almost all identified water needs in Texas for the next 50 years. The plan is based on extensive public participation and local and regional decision making. Over the initial three-year planning process, more than 450 voting and nonvoting community and interest group leaders representing the sixteen regional water planning groups held more than 900 public meetings across the state to develop strategies for meeting water needs over the 50-year horizon.
According to the State Water Plan, the population of Texas is expected to grow from nearly 21 million in 2000 to about 40 million in 2050. Total projected demand for water is expected to increase by 18 percent, from nearly 17 million acre-feet per year in 2000 to 20 million acre-feet per year in 2050. In contrast, water supplies over that same time period are expected to decrease by 19 percent, from 17.8 million acre-feet per year in 2000 to 14.5 million acre-feet per year in 2050.
When comparing future water demands with supplies from existing sources, the regional water planning groups identified 883 water user groups that will need additional water supplies within the next 50 years. Water user groups included municipal, manufacturing, steam-electric power, mining, irrigation, and livestock. After identifying the needs, the regional water planning groups evaluated and recommended a variety of different water management strategies to meet the needs. The Texas Water Development Board recognizes that some of these needs are immediate. While the State Water Plan covers a 50-year period, the need to implement strategies in the next five to ten years is a crucial step for the present and future of water in Texas and the United States. The total capital cost of implementing all of the water management strategies in the State Water Plan is approximately $18 billion. Please keep in mind that the estimated $18 billion cost is for water supply capital only and does not include infrastructure, wastewater treatment or flood control. Obviously, the magnitude of water supply needs is enormous. The State and local communities will need to leverage resources in order to make any progress towards implementing the water management strategies laid out in the State Water Plan. Again, a significant portion of the resources is needed over the next five years to avoid a costly backlog of implementation strategies and projects.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
The Corps of Engineers possesses valuable resources that could be immediately brought to bear in assisting State and local governments in integrated water resources planning. Speaking from the perspective of my home state, Texas could benefit greatly from Corps data, technical expertise and project assistance. Recently, Board staff has been working more closely with the Corps, and the benefits from this enhanced relationship confirms that the payoff for even more collaboration is considerable. As you consider the Water Resources Development Act of 2004, I strongly encourage the Committee to consider expanding the Corps’ authority to provide for technical and project assistance to State and local governments in addressing water supply issues.
The importance of an increased Corps role in water supply cannot be understated. While many States, particularly Texas, have invested significant resources to plan for future needs, the ability to address such needs now and in the future will require a leveraging of resources from federal, state and local entities. The Corps provides valuable data, and technical and project expertise that should be directed where leveraging results in the greatest national benefit -- water supply for our people, economy and environment.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide a State perspective on the integrated management of our water resources. Board staff stands ready to assist the Committee as it takes up this important piece of legislation.