Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 1629
By: Cook
Natural Resources


Prior to the 77th Legislature, state law prohibited the Lower Colorado
River Authority (LCRA) from selling water outside of its water service
area, unless it was specifically authorized to do so by the legislature.
The 75th Texas Legislature enacted legislation that established a framework
for state water planning based on local input and regional planning
efforts.  Currently, there are water needs in San Antonio and  irrigation
needs in the Colorado Basin, which would be alleviated through water
contracts with the LCRA.  House Bill 1629 authorizes the LCRA to sell water
to a municipality located outside of its water service area, pursuant to
certain limitations and restrictions and provided that such a sale is
consistent with regional water plans. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does
not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state
officer, department, agency, or institution. 


House Bill 1629 amends law to authorize the Lower Colorado River Authority
(LCRA) to enter into a written contract with a municipality located outside
the LCRA's water service area to distribute and sell water to the
municipality and sets forth provisions relating to charging a surcharge to
such a municipality for the development and management of water resources.
The bill provides that the surcharge determined by the board of directors
is not subject to review or modification by any regulatory agency or
administrative authority. 

The bill sets forth provisions regarding a contract between the LCRA and a
municipality located outside of LCRA's water service area and establishes
that within the LCRA's water service area the LCRA must own any personal
property, fixtures, or appurtenances that are used for making available,
diverting, or delivering water to a municipality under a contract. The bill
prohibits water to be provided under a contract from being diverted from
the Colorado River at diversion points located on the reservoirs that, on
the effective date of the Act, are owned and operated by the LCRA upstream
of Mansfield Dam and authorizes such water to be diverted only from
off-channel reservoirs built downstream of Mansfield Dam after the
effective date of the Act.  The bill also prohibits water from being
provided to a municipality unless the district demonstrates, through its
water management plan, to TNRCC that the LCRA will operate its water supply
system in conjunction with the water resources management efforts
contemplated by the contract to increase the average lake levels of Lake
Buchanan and Lake Travis.  The bill requires the LCRA to submit annually to
TNRCC a report demonstrating compliance with these provisions.  The bill
authorizes the LCRA to sell no more than a total of 150,000 acre-feet of
water in any year under contracts authorized by the Act. 

The bill provides that the LCRA is not authorized to pump water to the
municipality directly from the Colorado River, to sell its surface water
rights to any person or entity for use outside LCRA's water service area or
a sale or lease of water other than as specifically authorized.  The bill
prohibits the LCRA from selling groundwater to a municipality. The bill
also prohibits the LCRA from contracting to distribute or sell  water
unless the LCRA's board of directors finds that the contract: 

 _will protect and benefit the lower Colorado River watershed and the
LCRA's water service area; 
 _is consistent with regional water management plans filed with the Texas
Water Development Board on or before January 5, 2001;  

 _will ensure that the beneficial inflows remaining after any water
diversions will be adequate to maintain the ecological health and
productivity of the Matagorda Bay system; 

 _will provide for instream flows no less protective than those included in
the LCRA's water management plan as approved by TNRCC; 

 _will ensure that, before any water is delivered under the contract, the
municipality has prepared a drought contingency plan and has developed and
implemented a water conservation plan that will result in the highest
practicable levels of water conservation and efficiency achievable within
the municipality's jurisdiction; 

 _provides for a broad public and scientific review process designed to
ensure that all information that can be practicably developed is considered
in establishing beneficial inflow and instream flow provisions; and  

 _will benefit stored water levels in the LCRA's existing reservoirs.

The bill prohibits a municipality from reselling that water outside the
boundaries of the regional water planning area in which the municipality is
located, as such boundaries are designated by the Texas Water Development
Board as of January 5, 2001.  The bill sets forth provisions relating to
the authority of a municipality or municipally owned utility to enter into
and make payments under such a contract. 

May 16, 2001.