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LCRA Oversight Bill Expected To Die In Committee

Lower Colorado River Authority

A bill that would bring the Lower Colorado River Authority under the review of the Sunset Commission causes sparks to fly in a House committee.

The bill also would allow the district served by the LCRA to elect the members of the quasi-governmental board rather than all 15 being appointed by Gov. Rick Perry. 

The bill’s author, Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, said her second bill addresses the review of the LCRA and its activities by the Sunset Commission.

"The LCRA is by far the largest river authority in terms of revenue and responsibility given the quantity of water and power it delivers. It only seems prudent that the public wants to know about the impact of its operations, and while this bill would review the LCRA as if it were a state agency, it will not have the power to shut it down," Howard said.

Howard said current Texas Commission on Environmental Quality rules make it unclear who has the responsibility to ensure public water systems.

Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, said the bill does not equally address the needs of farmers in the lower half of the territory served by the LCRA.

"And you know when there are emergency orders put upon the rice farmers and the agriculture industry on the south end, that's usually the lake interest. The LCRA choses to do it, which is fine, but I find it interesting is that it is normally the lake interest representatives - whether it be Senator Fraiser or now you - that takes issue with the way the LCRA operates," Bonnen said.

Representative Bonnen is the head of the Sunset Commission, the group that would review the LCRA if the bill were to pass.

For now the bill was left pending in committee and given the timing of the session, it is where Howard expects the legislation to die.