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Summary: Although Texas already regulates the Water industry substantially, retail public utilities are not currently required to notify the Texas Commission on Environmental Equality (TCEQ) when their water supply is running low. HB 252 would make it a requirement for these retail public utilities to report to the TCEQ when their water supply is less than 180 days. HB 252 will also require the utility to keep projections of how long their water supply can reasonably be expected to last. If HB 252 is passed, TCEQ would be responsible for promulgating rules related to setting up the reporting system and any penalty for noncompliance.
Analysis: The state of Texas has a compelling public interest to be informed of looming water supply shortages in order to help prevent water from running out. Because there are 7000 retail public utilities in Texas currently handling water service, treatment and distribution, it can be very difficult to stay current with that information. Water supply and an area's infrastructure can effect that area's property value. While it is not the state's responsibility to protect property value, citizens do have a right to the type of information that HB 252 would make available. As part of its role, the TCEQ can aid utilities in attempts to maintain a safe water level. If a retail public utility reports to the TCEQ that its water level is low, the TCEQ can set up the utility with an alternate source, find a funding agency and/or notify the proper authorities if the situation grows more treacherous. The 180 days notification should provide the TCEQ adequate time prepare and coordinate a plan of action.
Very few Texans know how to obtain information about the water supply for the state, let alone their own county. HB 252 would increase the transparency of the state's water supply and place one agency in charge of maintaining up to date information. This would make it easier for all parties to easily find this information if needed.