AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN

State environmental office establishes Office of Water

Dec 1, 2009 | Austin American-Statesman by Asher Price | Related Press

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In another signal of how state officials are thinking even more about water issues, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality announced Tuesday that it has established a new Office of Water.

The new office will encompass the three existing major water divisions in the agency: Water Planning, Water Supply, and Water Quality.

“The new office is in recognition of the fact that the state’s population is expected to double in the next 30 years,” Chairman Bryan W. Shaw said in a news release. “So the agency must put even more focus on water issues to ensure that there will be adequate water quality and quantity for future demand.”

L’Oreal Stepney will serve as deputy director of the new Office of Water. She has served with the TCEQ and predecessor agencies since 1992. She holds a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Texas.

“There are 6,800 public water systems in our state,” said Executive Director Mark Vickery in the news release. “Making sure that the water that comes through these systems is clean and healthy is a priority of the TCEQ and is critically important to many, many Texans.”

Stepney has served in air permitting and wastewater permitting, as section manager of the Wastewater Permitting Section, as Water Quality Division director, and as assistant deputy director for the Office of Permitting and Registration.

“Over the past several years, much of the state experienced a fierce drought,” said commissioner and former Rio Grande Watermaster Carlos Rubinstein in the news release. “Our agency’s response to the people and communities that suffered from this event was extraordinary, and this new Office of Water will ensure that we provide an even higher and more focused level of response.”

“Water planning, water supply, and water quality are all issues that are important to the future of our state,” said commissioner Buddy Garcia in the release. “This is an important step in our reorganization.”

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