Horizon recap + Digest

Attendees at WEAT’s 2018 Water Environment Horizon conference enjoyed several engaging presentations and panel discussions, as we prepare for the upcoming 2019 Legislative Session. Some highlights of this year’s conference included:

L’Oreal Stepney, PE, Deputy Director, Office of Water, TCEQ – Ms. Stepney provided an overview of the rule-making process and highlighted priorities and new developments in water policy. Some of the latest rule changes involve Biosolids classification and application, a new screening procedure for Total Dissolved Solids, developed in concert with EPA, pretreatment rules for dental offices, and new regulations for Thermal Discharges. Stepney also stressed the willingness of the TCEQ to engage with any concerned stakeholder, to ensure that every viewpoint on a given issue is considered.

State Representative Dade Phelan, Beaumont/Orange – Representative Phelan summarized some of the larger issues facing both his constituents and the Legislature, reflecting on the complexity of budgeting in a state where property taxes and statewide school finance regulation are closely intertwined. His district includes the town of Nederland, which set a US record for rainfall over a 72-hour period during Hurricane Harvey. He stressed the importance of dams and reservoirs for managing flooding, and ensuring that our citizenry can reap the benefits of intermittent rain events, “the next drought is around the corner.” Representative Phelan closed with a call for regional and local authorities to collaborate on flood control and water management, highlighting the San Antonio River Authority’s participation in a regional Water Management Council. Representative Phelan’s speech was streamed live through WEAT’s Facebook page, you can rewatch it here (speech starts at 7:15).

Brooke Paup, Board Member, TWDB – The Texas Water Development Board is the least known, most important governmental agency in Texas. Paup made it clear that there is no “Texas Miracle” without water, and to that end the TWDB has invested more than $9 billion dollars statewide since 2013. The TWDB also manages the State Water Implementation Fund, which links long term planning and incentivized financing. Other highlights from her presentation included the Bois D’Arc reservoir in Fannin County, the first reservoir to be built in Texas in 30 years, the upcoming State Flood Assessment this December, and a new initiative in aerial strategic mapping for future planning purposes.

This year’s conference also featured presentations and panel discussions on Biosolids regulations, the recent Midterm elections, federal regulations and legislation, the impact of Hurricane Harvey, and utility management.


A brief water news digest

The Austin City Council has approved a contract with the current operator of Hornsby Bend biosolids plant, Synagro of Texas signed a 5-year (extendable to a total of 10 years) agreement to manage the biosolid waste generated by Austin Water’s treatment plants.

Senators Ben Cardin and Roger Wicker have introduced the Low-Income Water Customer Assistance Programs Act, which offers aid to water authorities in communities of less than 10,000 people. The act will support outreach to low-income water customers in the interest of maintaining their access to clean water.

Roughly 43 million Americans get their drinking water from private wells, but without consistent regulation and enforcement, many of them are knowingly or unknowingly consuming contaminated water.

The Army Corps of Engineers has begun a $70 million dredging operation on the San Jacinto River near Houston.

The City of Gatesville is building a solar panel array above and around their wastewater treatment plant, offering potential savings of up to a third of the plants yearly operating cost.

The Texas Water Development Board meets on Monday, November 12. The meeting will be streamed live on their website, more information and the agenda can also be found online.

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