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State Legislators Looking At Ways To Manage Natural Resources In Eagle Ford Shale Region

Eileen Pace

As activity and income from the Eagle Ford Shale continues to grow, affected communities are studying how to manage finite resources into the future.

Local and state leaders are planning for issues that could not be fully addressed during the boom that hit the area six years ago.  

South Texas counties successfully weathered transformational changes with the Eagle Ford. It’s no secret that incomes have skyrocketed.

State and local leaders at this year’s Eagle Ford Consortium Conference this week predicted more stunning growth for the future, and that growth now needs support for its natural resources.

State Sen. Juan Hinojosa, whose district covers the Eagle Ford southward to the coast, said fracking uses a lot of water:

"We have plenty of water in the state, just not in the right places," Hinojosa said. 

He said the state is stepping in to help communities manage their water supply, upgrade water plants and infrastructure, and create conservation programs.

"So we at the state level have invested approximately $8 billion," Hinojosa said. "By that I mean we have $6 billion in evergreen bonds. At the same time we have $2 billion more that came in this last November from the Rainy Day Fund. So that's a total of $8 billion for grants, for loans to help build our water capacity."

Hiniojosa said cities and other entities can access the funds through the Water Development Board and use them to create sustainability over the long-term:

"Also you'll see public-private partnerships in constructing plants for desalinization," Hinojosa said. 

Hinojosa said desalination plants have begun construction in Corpus Christi and other locations along the coast, along with those that will refine brackish water. 

Also speaking at the conference was state Sen. Carlos Uresti, who said the state will be helping Eagle Ford communities in other areas of infrastructure, including housing shortages and county roads. He said the legislature appropriated $225 million in the last session for county roads, and admits that’s not enough, but said it’s a beginning.  

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.