Office of House Bill AnalysisC.S.H.B. 1629
By: Cook
Natural Resources
Committee Report (Substituted)


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. C.S.H.B 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. 


C.S.H.B 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. 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 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 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. 


The substitute differs from the original bill by adding the definition of
"water service area." "Water service area" means the area in which the
Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) is authorized to use, distribute, and
sell water on January 1, 2001. The substitute replaces "Colorado River
watershed" with "water service area" throughout the bill.  The substitute
removes from the original bill the provision that prohibits LCRA from
amending a contract to increase the volume of water to be sold to a
municipality unless specified voting and consultation occur. The substitute
clarifies the original by  adding the words 'then current' to require
municipalities to pay the then current rate under a contract if certain
actions are taken.