News Digest - November 15, 2019

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments for County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, a case concerning a single wastewater treatment plant’s groundwater discharge that may have far-reaching implications for permit holders and regulators. Justices weighed the ramifications of how to assign responsibility for point source discharge that is conveyed to navigable waters, covered by the Clean Water Act, via a nonpoint source. The Maui County Council had attempted to have the suit dismissed but was unsuccessful.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick released the Interim Legislative Charges for the Texas State Senate. Topics of particular interest to WEAT include:

Future Water Supply: Examine current laws, processes, and water storage options and availability. Make recommendations promoting the state's water supply, storage, availability, valuation, movement, and development of new sources.
River Authority Infrastructure: Examine the roles and responsibilities of river authorities in maintaining their managed assets including, but not limited to,dams. Evaluate the impact on the economy, water supply, and flood control due to deferred maintenance. Make recommendations to promote infrastructure stability and maintain the usability of these bodies of water.
Groundwater Regulatory Framework: Study the state's groundwater regulatory framework and make recommendations to improve groundwater regulation, management, and permitting.
Monitoring: Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committees on Natural Resources and Economic Development and Water and Rural Affairs passed by the 86th Legislature, as well as relevant agencies and programs under each committee's jurisdiction.

Texas voters approved two propositions, one authorizing the Texas Water Development Board to issue bonds to develop water and wastewater treatment systems for “economically distressed areas,” the other approving the transfer of $800 million from the State Rainy Day Fund to TWDB administered “Flood Infrastructure Fund.” The latter was previewed for WEAT members by State Representative Dade Phelan at WEAT’s 2018 Water Environment Horizon Conference.

As the Permian Basin’s fracking boom continues, investment in produced water treatment facilities is also paying dividends.

New rules went into place on the three lakes on the Guadelupe River that were closed by the GBRA earlier this year. Recreation is now allowed outside of restricted zones near the three aging dams. An attempt by lakefront residents to force an injunction redirecting GBRA funds to dam repairs was rejected in court.

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