Senate Bill 1 (SB 1)
In response to the statewide drought of 1996, the Texas Legislature enacted comprehensive water policy legislation in 1997. Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), also known as the Brown-Lewis Water Plan after its authors, addresses a broad range of water policy issues including:
The primary purpose of SB 1 is to improve the state's preparedness for future droughts through better planning, development, management and conservation of limited water resources. Other goals are to provide an adequate water supply at a reasonable cost to ensure the public's health, safety, and welfare, as well as to promote further economic development and protect the state's agricultural and natural resources.
The Texas Water Development Board charged all regional water planning groups with developing policy as an integral part of the second round of planning. In an October 2003 questionnaire, the Rio Grande RWPG ranked issues as to their importance to the region.
Planning group meetings include presentations that review current information on a specific issue, identify options for action, and develop policy statements/positions. These policy statements are included in the regional plan.
Water user groups within Region M increasingly are looking at groundwater as an alternative supply to surface water. The Rio Grande RWPG amended the plan in mid-2003 to include desalination of brackish groundwater.
At its March 15, 2004, meeting, the group also considered a variety of issues related to groundwater development and use, including a resolution (PDF, 110 kb) urging the General Land Office to adhere to the regional water planning process as it considers sales or leases of groundwater under state lands.
Mexican Water Deficit
This controversial subject, central to any discussion on water supply issues in the Rio Grande Valley, is detailed in-depth in "H2owe" by Clint Shields, reprinted here from the October 2003 issue of Fiscal Notes, the newsletter of the Texas Comptroller.
Ten years later, excessive drought means that the water deficit continues to be a critical issue. In April 2013, Region M authored Resolution 2013-02, urging the President, IBWC, and state department to take immediate action to secure the water outlined in the 1944 Treaty. Additional documents and information on this issue are available on the TCEQ Mexican water deficit website.
A position statement on groundwater policy issues was approved at the May 26, 2004, meeting of the Rio Grande RWPG.