Proposition 2 addresses growing statewide water concern -, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Proposition 2 addresses growing statewide water concern

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EAST TEXAS - Voters will have the chance to go to the polls Tuesday and vote for 10 statewide propositions that will amend the state constitution.

One of the biggest propositions on the ballot is Proposition 2, which addresses a growing concern in the state about water -- and specifically, the growing need Texas has to be able to pay for that water supply.

"Proposition 2 would provide additional bond authority for the Water Development Board so that we can then provide financing for water-related infrastructure for cities, counties, and water supply corporations throughout the state," said Melanie Callahan, Interim Executive Administrator for the Texas Water Development Board.

If Proposition 2 passes on Tuesday, the Texas Water Development Board will be allowed to issue up to $6 billion in bonds to those cities, counties, and water supply corporations so they then can address a growing concern -- that there simply is not enough water.

It's taken awhile for Texas to get here, but thanks in part due to a growing population and the drought we're in, the Water Development Board only has about $500 million dollars to spend on new projects, and a lot of the state's existing infrastructure, according to Callahan, needs work.

"When those pipes are put in the ground or those treatment plants are built, they don't last forever," Callahan said. "They have to be maintained, they have to be upgraded, they have to be replaced."

If the proposition passes, each entity requesting the bond money for a project will be required to pay the water board back, so the board then can turn around and issue bonds to another entity who needs a project.

In that regard, Proposition 2 would be an ongoing authority, something critics say is a problem -- as long as $6 billion in bonds aren't issued at one time, the Water Development Board could authorize another bond for another project.

"There are constraints in place within the state infrastructure that would not allow the board to issue that debt unless an entity needs it," said Callahan. "So there are constraints that are already in place to prevent the, quote, writing of a blank check that some people are concerned about."

Now, opponents of Proposition 2 say that $6 billion "blank check" will put Texas further in debt.

Supporters say that, given the lengthy drought we're expected to stay in and the increase in population that's expected to continue, we have to find a way to address a growing problem.

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