New Water Conservation Laws (Texas Legislative Session, 2003)
During the 2003 Legislative Session, new laws relating to water conservation were passed to:
House Bill 645
Limits the power of homeowner's associations to discourage outdoor water conservation.
Many property owners' associations have deed restrictions, covenants, or regulations that address landscaping practices. Often, these rules undermine water conservation goals by mandating certain amounts and types of turf grass coverage or excessive maintenance standards and irrigation systems, while at the same time prohibiting native or climatically appropriate landscapes and rainwater harvesting systems. Although greatly weakened from its original text, H.B. 645 does limit the enforcement of certain deed restrictions, covenants, or property association rules that discourage water conservation.
House Bill 803
Imposes some new conservation prerequisites on the condemnation of groundwater resources.
This new law requires that before a city, county or other political subdivision can condemn land to get groundwater it must: (1) prepare a drought contingency plan, (2) develop a sound water conservation plan, (3) demonstrate that it has attempted and failed to obtain alternative water supplies elsewhere and through means other than condemnation, and (4) show that it will need the water within the next ten years. House Bill 803 also changes the calculation of condemnation awards by authorizing the consideration and awarding of actual damages to a property owner for the local market value of the groundwater rights, not just the land itself.
House Bill 2660
Imposes new requirements for water conservation plans.
Currently, holders of most large surface water rights and applicants seeking state funding for water supply projects must develop water conservation plans. However, many of those plans are extremely vague and poorly implemented. This new law requires that such water conservation plans contain quantified targets for water savings. In addition, it directs the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to adopt rules requiring the holders of water rights to report on how the have implemented their required water conservation plans.
House Bill 2661
Directs the development of rules aimed at allowing greater use of "graywater" for landscape purposes.
A typical Texas household may generate about 100 gallons per day of "graywater", which is household wastewater from clothes washing machines, showers, bathtubs, and handwashing sinks. This new law directs the development of rules allowing for increased ability to use "graywater" to replace potable water for common irrigation purposes.
House Bill 2663
Requires specific water savings targets for drought contingency plans.
A companion to House Bill 2660, this law requires that drought contingency plans, which must be developed by public water suppliers holding large surface water rights, have to include specific quantified targets for water savings. The bill also directs the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Water Development Board to develop model programs that water suppliers may use in the preparation of such plans.
Senate Bill 1094
Establishes a Water Conservation Implementation Task Force to be overseen by the Texas Water Development Board.
This new law directs the creation of a Water Conservation Implementation Task Force with representation from a long list of interested groups. The major duties of the Task Force include (1) identifying, evaluating and selecting Best Management Practices (BMPs) for water conservation by municipal, agricultural and industrial water users, and conducting an evaluation of costs and benefits for those BMPs; (2) evaluating the implementation of water conservation strategies recommended in regional and state water plans; and (3) considering the need for establishing and maintaining a statewide public awareness program for water conservation. The task force is also directed to develop a BMP Guide for use by regional water planning groups and political subdivisions responsible for water delivery service. More information about the Task Force is available on the Texas Water Development website.
House Bill 3338
Requires retail public utility systems to perform water loss audits.
In some cases, public utilities have lost over 30 percent of the water they pumped. This bill requires a retail public utility providing potable water to periodically perform a water audit computing the utility's most recent annual system water loss. Regional water planning groups are now required to use this information in determining appropriate water management strategies in the development of a regional water plan.
House Bill 1152
Gives non-profit water supply corporations enforcement powers for water conservation practices.
House Bill 1152 gives non-profit water supply corporations authority to require reasonable customer water conservation practices and to prohibit wasteful or excessive water use. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality may review challenged penalties for reasonableness.
Senate Bill 1053
Created the Agricultural Water Conservation Fund.
The Agriculture Water Conservation Fund consolidates three pre-existing agricultural financial assistance programs in an effort to streamline the state's agricultural loan program and give the TWDB greater funding flexibility to help address the needs of irrigated agriculture in the state.
Concerned About Water?
To find out how you can get involved in water issues in your area, email or call us toll-free at 1-800-919-9151.
Add your organization or local government to the growing list of those endorsing the Principles for Protecting Texas' Water Resources
Find Out More
Find out what you can do to contribute to water savings.
What You Can Do
See how some very simple behavior changes and basic installations can make a considerable difference in the amount of water used in a single residence.