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Under current Texas Water Code, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission has the responsibility of monitoring dam safety and the authority to declare an emergency order if the commission feels a dam is unsafe according to state requirements. The state government is not responsible for monitoring dams if they are smaller than 500 acre-feet in capacity, have a low hazard classification, are in a county with a population less than 215,000 and are not located within the corporate limits of a municpality. The owner or operator of dams that fall under these exemptions are still liable for any damages caused by a dam that does not meet minimum requirments. Currently, these exemptions are set to expire in 2015. HB 677 raises the county population limit to 350,000. Additionally, HB 677 repeals the subsection that calls for the expiration dates.
Because HB 677 increases the population limit for counties that would receive exemptions, it would make more private owners and operators responsible for their dams' safety and would limit the role of government in regulating the dams. Owners and operators would continue to be liable for any damage caused by their dams but would not have be subject to the costly regulatory requirements that come with state oversight. TPPA supports HB 677 because the bill supports personal responsibility and protects private property rights while limiting the scope of government.