DALLAS MORNING NEWS

Editorial: FW Event Offers Needed Education on Texas Water

Nov 13, 2009 | Dallas Morning News by Editorial | Related Press

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“Most of us understand Texas’ transportation problems. We’re the ones stuck in traffic, and we know the state needs to rethink how people get around.

Most of us understand Texas’ pollution problems. We’re the ones breathing bad air, and we know the state needs to clean up its environment.

Yet most of us don’t fathom Texas’ water woes. Sure, we might feel a pinch during droughts, but every time we turn the tap, water spills out. Why get all bothered about the water supply decades into the future?

No one knows this dilemma better than state Sen. Kip Averitt. The Waco Republican has pushed the Legislature to tackle substantive water issues, including creating a way to finance the 50-year water plan.

At times, the Senate Natural Resources Committee chair has succeeded. At others, he hasn’t, often because his colleagues fail to share his sense of urgency to tackle these issues.

One reason is a lack of education, even among lawmakers, about Texas’ water challenges. That’s why we’re glad Averitt and Democratic Rep. Allan Ritter of Nederland, who heads the House Natural Resources Committee, are sponsoring a two-day conference to elevate the state’s water demands.

Dubbed “H204TEXAS: The Water Event,” the sessions begin today at Fort Worth’s Omni Hotel. The conference will look at some national issues but devote considerable focus to state water issues, including our own in North Texas.

We’re particularly curious what ideas may spring forth about financing Texas’ water plan. If the state doesn’t build out that roadmap, which includes many conservation and reuse projects, it will come up short in major ways.

Within North Texas alone, employment is projected to fall by 17 percent, annual income will decline by 21 percent, and the population will shrink by about 1 million people – directly from a lack of water. We don’t know about you, but the threat of disappearing jobs, lower pay and fewer taxpayers sounds like a recipe for North Texas becoming one big, giant Detroit.

For these reasons, we hope North Texas legislators turn out for the conference and show strong leadership in finding a way to finance the state water plan. Other than state Sen. Florence Shapiro of Plano and Reps. Jodie Laubenberg of Parker and Charlie Geren of Fort Worth, this region has not had an abundance of water policy leaders. We certainly haven’t had anything approaching a John Carona, the Dallas Republican who’s become Mr. Transportation in the Texas Senate.

It’s way past time we had more leadership. We certainly hope this conference makes the state’s water woes come alive for legislators and the people who vote for them. We would hate to risk seeing that day when nothing comes out of the tap.

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