SB 521

84(R) - 2015
Senate Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs
Senate Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs
Natural Resources
Property Rights

Vote Recommendation

  • Neutral
  • Negative
  • Neutral
  • Negative
  • Neutral


Troy Fraser

Bill Caption

Relating to the period for which the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality may grant or renew an emergency authorization relating to the use of state water.

Fiscal Notes

No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.

Bill Analysis

SB 521, if passed, would modify the Water Code (Section 11.139) by changing the length of the time periods of emergency authorization granted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Emergency authorization is enacted in times of drought to better manage water resources.

Currently, the initial emergency authorization lasts for a period of 120 days and subsequent emergency authorization for a period of 60 days. SB 521 would extend these periods so that initial authorization would last for a period of two years and subsequent authorization for one year.

Also, subsequent authorization may only be issued once under current code. SB 521 would allow multiple subsequent authorizations and would allow the TCEQ to make these authorizations automatic.

EDIT: The house committee version of SB 521 cleans up some of the changes which would have been introduced in the original version of the bill, namely the second section, dealing with renewal of authorization. The house version still retains the proposed change from 120 days to 270 days emergency authorization.

Vote Recommendation Notes

5/24/2015 update:

No changes were made in House committee. The second chamber sponsor is Representative Jim Keffer.

First chamber recommendation:

Although appropriate management of water resources in Texas is an important, SB 521 would go too far in its potential restrictions of water use. Potentially the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality could condemn an area to stringent restrictions independent of actual environmental conditions in a given area. It is not reasonable to assume that the TCEQ can make predictions regarding hydrological conditions for a given area two years in advance. Such an assumption is empirically unsound. Nor is it reasonable to grant the TCEQ authority to make re authorizations automatic and of an indefinite length of time.

It is our view that SB 521 is an unwarranted expansion of state power and a potential source of property rights abuse, though the intent is laudable enough. On these grounds we oppose SB 521.