ABILENE, Texas - Senator Troy Fraser was in Abilene Thursday to address the public about three new bills he has filed that he believes will help with the water issues the state of Texas has been facing for years.
"The demand for water over the next 50 years is going to be great and if we don't start planning now, we're going to get behind the curve," said Fraser at Thursday's conference.
The population of the state is expected to double in the next half-century.
"If we're going to have another 26 million people that move into our state we're going to have to make sure that whenever they turn on the water tap that a good supply of drinkable water comes out," said Fraser.
If passed, the bills he has filed will provide $2 billion dollars to fund projects (SB 22), restructure the Texas Water Development Board (SB 4), and give local agencies the freedom to form regional partnerships to solve water needs (SB 235).
$200 million of that allocated money will go to projects in rural areas, and another $200 million is for water conservation and reuse projects.
One of the projects that will directly affect the Big Country is the Cedar Ridge Reservoir. Plans for the project have been in the works for several years.
The reservoir and a mile-long dam would be built on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River and would have a capacity to hold about 74 billion gallons of water.
"Cedar Ridge is being recognized as one of the most important projects from a needs standpoint in the state," said Fraser. "Abilene is a primary source of water for a lot of these small cities in West Texas."
Abilene Mayor Norm Archibald agrees that the future of the state rests on having enough water to support a rapidly growing population.
"We're trying to plan for the future," said Archibald. "We're trying to plan for water for not only our generation but the generations to come."
Senator Fraser said he is encouraged by how the process is going and believes the bills have the support they will need to pass.
One major reason Texas has experienced water issues is due to drought.
Ninety-six percent of the state is considered to be in some level of drought.
Most reservoirs in the state are only about 67 percent full. In the Big Country, those reservoirs are even lower.
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