Course Correction: How Texas Can Unlock the Unrealized Potential of Senate Bill 3 For Achieving Meaningful Environmental Flow Protection
Texas is a state with a wealth of natural beauty, including a remarkable bounty of flowing streams and rivers and productive bays and estuaries along the coast. The health of those streams, rivers, and estuaries is at serious risk from flow depletion in the absence of effective flow protections. Recognizing that risk, the Texas Legislature, in 2007, enacted potentially far-reaching legislation (Senate Bill 3) providing for protection of environmental flows in Texas rivers and streams (instream flows) and into bays and estuaries (freshwater inflows). The first environmental flow standards were adopted in 2011 and the ten-year review period for those initial standards provided for in SB 3 is now upon us.
In anticipation of that review process and the consideration of potential revisions to those standards, this summary provides a snapshot of the state of SB 3 implementation 14 years after passage and offers recommendations for steps to be taken by TCEQ and by the Texas Legislature to address shortcomings in implementation and seize the unrealized potential of that legislative effort.
More than a decade in the making, this report provides a comprehensive analysis of the history and current state of Texas’ landmark environmental flows regulatory framework established by Senate Bill 3 (SB 3). Noted environmental flows expert, Myron Hess, assesses the mandates laid out by SB 3 and their state of implementation a decade into the process.
While his findings are deeply concerning, Hess also lays out a path forward, providing practical, workable solutions for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the state legislature to revive the SB 3 process and protect the state’s endangered natural heritage.Download PDF
This guidebook, a joint project of the Hill Country Alliance and National Wildlife Federation, is intended to connect Hill Country communities facing growth and increased demands for water with water professionals experienced with One Water strategies, planning, implementation, design and construction. We interviewed engineers, architects, planners and landscape designers to gain insight into the realities of One Water projects, and within these pages feature the 14 selected professionals along with an example project each completed in Texas.
Finding and connecting with consultants who can be trusted with a community’s most precious resource—its water—is a serious undertaking, and we hope this guidebook gives you a good place to start. Our organizations are committed to help you along the way as well.Download PDF
Texas lawmakers have a unique opportunity to address the state’s fragile water infrastructure with the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) explicitly authorizing the use of federal funds to make needed investments in water and sewer infrastructure. A broad coalition of rural, conservation, and equity-focused organizations today released a set of proposed guidelines to help Governor Abbott and the Texas Legislature take full advantage of ARPA funding for water infrastructure purposes.Download PDF
Water reuse projects are a proven solution to the state’s water availability challenges, but many more could be built if developers took greater advantage of a statewide financing program for water and energy conservation improvements known as PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy).
A new report by the National Wildlife Federation and Texas Water Trade highlights the vast potential – as well as the challenges – of using PACE to finance the upfront capital costs of water reuse, including development of onsite infrastructure for capturing and reusing non-potable water such as rainwater and air conditioner condensate as well as connecting and reusing a utilities’ recycled wastewater (known as purple pipe infrastructure).Download PDF
The Texas Hill Country is prone to both prolonged drought and catastrophic flash floods. These extremes will only get more intense with climate change. This issue paper introduces some of the nature-based and green infrastructure strategies available to reduce the impacts of flooding in the Hill Country. These solutions can be implemented at multiple scales, from the site or building level, throughout a community, or across an entire region or landscape.Download PDF
The prized and productive wetlands, bays, and estuaries of the Texas Mid-Coast require decisive policy interventions to defend against multiple climate-related threats, according to this analysis from the National Wildlife Federation’s Texas Coast and Water Program.
While the study indicates the coast is changing at an accelerating pace, the authors emphasize end-of-century projections are non-static and adaptive solutions such as ecosystem-based investments this decade could help combat emerging threats and build resilience across the region.Download PDF
This annotated bibliography synthesizes recent studies and reports on the performance of natural and nature-based infrastructure. These resources can be used to inform the Regional Flood Planning Groups on natural infrastructure techniques as they develop flood management evaluations (FMEs), flood management projects (FMPs), and flood management strategies (FMSs).Download PDF