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House Committee on Natural Resources - 85th R.S. (2017)

Committee Members
Lyle Larson, Chair
Dade Phelan, Vice Chair
Trent Ashby
DeWayne Burns
James Frank
Kyle Kacal
Tracy O. King
Eddie Lucio, III
Poncho Nevárez
Four Price
Paul Workman
• Examine the following issues within the committee's jurisdiction regarding Harvey and flooding in general: the role of regional entities in developing projects to control flooding, both through new infrastructure and enhancing existing infrastructure; mitigation efforts that would reduce the impact of future flood events, and strategies to fund those efforts; and the response of public entities that own or operate dams to large-scale rain events, including how such entities make decisions regarding dam and reservoir operations during such events, coordinate with state and local emergency management officials, and communicate with the public.
• In conjunction with Charge 1, study the following additional issues related to Hurricane Harvey and flooding in general:
a. The development of the initial State Flood Plan by the Texas Water Development Board, and how the plan might be enhanced or focused in light of Harvey;
b. Science and data availability and needs related to flood risk and to responding to flood events;
c. The best methods of providing state financial assistance for flood infrastructure needs;
d. Opportunities for improved collection and storage of flood flows for future supply needs; and
e. The role of voluntary land conservation efforts, including conservation easements, in preventing and mitigating flooding.
• Evaluate the status of groundwater policy in Texas, including the following issues:
a. Progress and challenges in encouraging coordination and consistency in aquifer-wide management and permitting practices;
b. Developments in case law regarding groundwater ownership and regulation;
c. Potential improvements to the existing groundwater permitting process, including those contemplated in H.B. 31 (85R);
d. The appropriate consideration of the service area of a water supplier when groundwater resources are allocated based on surface ownership;
e. The designation of brackish groundwater production zones and related research;
f. Groundwater data and science needs; and
g. Emerging issues in groundwater and surface water interaction, in particular in areas of increasing competition for scarce resources.
• Examine the status of water markets in Texas and the potential benefits of and challenges to expanded markets for water.
• Examine the potential value, the necessary elements, and the implications of a broad-based information and awareness campaign regarding water issues in Texas. Consider input from water stakeholders, educators, and communications experts.
• Evaluate the results of the expedited decertification process created under S.B. 573 (82R). Include an evaluation of the process for resolving disputes around this process and assessing compensation for utilities whose service areas are decertified.
• Analyze the need to update Water Availability Models for the river basins in this state.
• Study the hazards presented by abandoned and deteriorated groundwater wells, and make recommendations to address the contamination and other concerns these wells may represent.
• Examine opportunities to enhance water development opportunities involving neighboring states and Mexico. Evaluate lessons from previous attempts to import new water supplies, as well as the impacts of noncompliance with the 1944 treaty with Mexico on the Rio Grande Valley region.
• Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 85th Legislature.

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