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


Under current law, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) is prohibited
from selling water outside of its water service area, unless it is
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 the Colorado River watershed, 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
of the Colorado River watershed 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 relating to a contract between the LCRA and
a municipality located outside of the Colorado River watershed. The bill
prohibits the district from amending a contract to increase the volume of
water to be sold to a municipality under this Act unless at least 12
directors vote to approve the amendment after consulting with the county
judges of San Saba, Lampasas, Burnet, Llano, Blanco, Travis, Bastrop,
Fayette, Colorado, Wharton, and Matagorda counties.  The bill requires the
directors to encourage the county judges to form a committee to address the
protection of Colorado River water resources.  

The bill establishes that within the LCRA's water service area as it
existed on January 1, 2001, 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. 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

The bill does not authorize the LCRA to sell its surface water rights to
any person or entity for  use outside the Colorado River watershed 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; and 
 _will benefit stored water levels in the LCRA's existing reservoirs.

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

On passage, or if the Act does not receive the necessary vote, the Act
takes effect September 1, 2001.