It has been a full three days since HB 4 passed through the House Committee on Natural Resources on its way to a floor vote, and supporters of the measure are still hopped up about the possibility to implement a state water plan drafted by 16 regional stakeholder groups that would, among other measures, establish seed funding for a water infrastructure bank that would provide low-interest loans in support of water projects across the state.

The bill, if passed by the Texas House and Senate, would be the first major state legislation designed to offer funding for the development of water projects and plans in direct response to the state’s most serious drought of record and to address the future water needs of the public, agriculture and other industry.

If approved, the bill would provide $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to start a low-interest loan program for new water projects. Loan repayments would go back into the fund to further water project efforts statewide.

What started out as an 8-page bill was recently expanded to 31 pages which, among other things, increases the focus on water conservation as well as funding for new water projects. The plan requires that 20 percent of all funding support conservation programs and establish guidelines to make funding more readily available to water projects that also offer conservation strategies.

Critics of the bill warn that the proposed legislation supports water projects that can bring harm to the state’s rivers, streams and climate and fails to address water conservation adequately.