King, Estes on desalination study committee

By Messenger Staff | Published Saturday, April 5, 2014

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Both of Wise County’s representatives in Austin will serve on a Joint Interim Committee to Study Water Desalination.

House Speaker Joe Strauss announced last Friday state Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) will serve on the panel, which is chaired by state Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls).

The committee, which will likely begin meeting in May, is charged with examining the status of seawater and groundwater desalination in Texas, as well as ways that expanded use of desalinated water could help meet Texas’ water needs.

The Texas Desalination Association says the state has almost 100 desalination plants, producing 138 million gallons of water per day. All of them use brackish groundwater, not seawater, which has a much higher concentration of salt.

Other House appointees to the interim committee are Rep. Todd Hunter of Corpus Christi, Rep. Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City, Rep. Lyle Larson of San Antonio, Rep. Marisa M rquez of El Paso, Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt of Lexington and Rep. Terry Canales of Edinburg.

Other Senate appointees, announced in January, include Sen. Troy Fraser of Marble Falls, Sen. Glenn Hegar of Katy, Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa of McAllen and Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville.

“Water remains a top priority for the Texas House because it remains critical to the Texas economy and our quality of life,” said Straus (R-San Antonio). “These members will play an important role in building consensus around smart, responsible water solutions.”

King said looking at alternative ways to address future water needs “is critical for ensuring a strong Texas economy.”

During the 83rd Legislative Session, House Bill 4 was approved and signed into law establishing the SWIFT account to pay for needed water supply and conservation projects across Texas. Last November, Texans voted by a three-to-one margin to amend the constitution to dedicate funding out of the state’s Rainy Day account for those projects.

The interim committee will work to ensure that efforts to improve the state’s water supply are properly and effectively implemented. They will also help the full House prepare to address water matters in the next legislative session, which begins in January 2015.

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