Reporting Bud Gillett
LAKE LAVON (CBS 11 NEWS) - Governor Rick Perry brought his campaign for a statewide water plan to North Texas. He’s urging voters to pass Proposition-6 in next month’s election. The proposition would allow the state to use its Rainy Day Fund to finance water projects across Texas.
“We all know there hasn’t been enough rain in the last several years…and an occasional drought is part of living in the Desert Southwest,” Perry said as he addressed reporters at Lake Lavon. With state and North Texas populations expected to double in the next five decades, Governor Perry’s urging voters to support Proposition-6.
He spoke in front of a new pump station being built by the North Texas Municipal Water District. The governor argued Texans should allow the state to take two billion dollars from its Rainy Day fund to use for water infrastructure loans.
“Through this process we’re going to be able to turn two billion dollars in seed money that’s in the Rainy Day Fund into 30-billion dollars worth of water projects across our state,” he said. “We can’t make it rain, but we can take measure to extend our existing water supply and work to develop new supplies.”
Local realtor Meredith Held agrees. “What have we got without water?” she asks.
Held is President of the Collin County Realtors Association. She worries that without sustainable water resources, new businesses might not come here.
“Without new businesses we won’t be able to bring in those people who need to work for those businesses. And without that, the housing industry is dead in the water, no pun intended,” she said.
Held says there are some places in Texas that have only 180 days of water left. She claims local developers are also feeling anxious.
“Developers are already having a hard enough time getting funding to develop. But without water they have nothing.”
Prop 6 supporters argue that the proposition would allow water agencies to borrow money for projects at significantly discounted rates. Sometimes even lower than a Triple-A bond rating could command.
“It’s not a grant, it’s a loan,” says Jim Parks, Executive Director of the North Texas Municipal Water District. “And it’s a loan that may be accessible to you at a cheaper rate than you might go and borrow that same amount of money.”
Parks should know. He has 1.6 million customers in North Texas who are on Stage-3 water restrictions just now because of the Zebra Mussel crisis. New pumps and a pipeline system come on line next year to fix it. But even with a AAA bond rating, it’s a 300-million dollar price tag, and customers are funding it with higher interest rates–and higher water bills—than the price the district could theoretically have negotiated from a Rainy Day Fund loan. While customers are aware of efforts to save water, Parks told reporters it may not be enough.
“The simple fact is we can’t conserve our way out of the need to develop additional water supplies across the state of Texas.”
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