Lawmakers Push $2 Billion Investment to Start State Water Fund - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Lawmakers Push $2 Billion Investment to Start State Water Fund

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Recent rains have really hit the spot here in central Texas, but it's not nearly enough.

Ongoing drought conditions have state lawmakers scrambling to ensure we have enough water  for the future.

The state's population is expected to almost double by 2060, but the amount of water available is set to go down if use stays at current levels.

Sheri Potter has watched population of Bell County grow 25 percent over the last decade.

Even since she moved to Harker Heights in May, she's been shocked by the construction.

"We were surprised that there were still streets in our neighborhood (Evergreen Estates) that were being built upon," she said.

With the population boom comes a big increase in the need for water.

That's where proposition six comes in.

It's a push by lawmakers put $2 billion from the state's rainy day fund into a new state water fund. That would finance projects to get water to growing communities.

"There are not very many appropriate locations left to build major reservoirs," said Tim Brown, a Bell County Commissioner and board member of the Brazos G region planning zone.

Plus, those take a long time to generate revenue by selling the water. So instead, the money would probably fund pipelines, desalinization, water recycling, things like that.

"A project will have to be self-sustaining in the long run," Brown said.

That's because it's a loan program. Cities will have to repay what they take from the fund. Some worry how they'll do that.

"Anybody who's lived here for a long amount of time has seen their water bill just completely grow," said Marylou Paulk, who's lived in Harker Heights for 27 years.

And they're already running out of water.

In Evergreen Estates, a new subdivision in Harker Heights, there are still a lot of empty lots to build on, and they've already had to build a brand new water tower to support the new homes.

The goal of the fund is to create enough new revenue from selling water to new residents to pay back the loans.

Sheri is wary.

"They never put a proposition on without the people having to pay for it," she said.

But lawmakers and water planners are still confident Prop 6 will hold water with enough voters come November.

Sixteen regional water planning zones have picked out more than 500 individual projects they want to see funded over the coming decades, including many in Bell County.

The state could be on the hook for more than $27 billion in loans over that time period if all of them get funded.

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