It appears that we may have “dodged the bullet”, politically speaking.
As has been widely reported in the Waco Trib, the Texas House of Representatives passed HB 2827, which would have repealed certain safeguards established over twenty years ago that protected our drinking water here in Waco. I personally remember when our tap water in Waco was discolored, smelled and had large particles floating in it.
This problem was literally caused by the huge dairies operating just north of us. The cattle in those dairies produce a tremendous amount of poop and that was what was in our water. Gross!
We all drank bottled water at the time. However, you can’t bathe your kids in bottled water. You can’t wash your dishes in bottled water. We had a crisis and it hurt and scared both the business community (especially the restaurant industry) and our individual families as well.
After spending millions of dollars, we were able to solve the problem with bi-partisan legislation and a permitting system. Waco’s water is still not great, but it is vastly improved from those days back in 2001.
HB 2827 would have changed all that by repealing the permitting system and other measures that gave us the cleaner water quality that we have today. Although our State Representative Doc Anderson vowed to “strongly oppose” HB 2827, his ineffective efforts were unsuccessful. This bill was proposed by other representatives of Doc Anderson’s own party and he could not persuade them against advocating for it and could not build a large coalition of other representatives to help him oppose it. Heck, he could not even persuade the State Representative representing East Waco, Angelia Orr, to vote with him against HB 2827 and protect the water quality in all of Waco, including her district.
HB 2827 passed the Texas House on May 5, 2023, and was sent to the Texas Senate for consideration. It is now sitting in the Senate Natural Resources Committee. The Texas Legislature only meets once every other year and for only 140 days. This session of the Texas legislature will end on May 30, 2023 - commonly referred to as Sine Die. Because there is simply not enough time for HB 2827 to have a committee hearing and then be voted out of the Senate before Sine Die, the quality of Waco’s water has literally been “saved by the bell”.
However, the Texas legislature meets every two years. The coalition of State Representatives who shepherded this bill through the Texas House this session will assuredly be back in the next session of the Texas Legislature ready to push it through again. It is obvious that, if we want clean, drinkable water in Waco, Texas, we need representatives representing Waco that listen to their constituents and policy makers and are able to form coalitions, strategies, alternative ideas and legal arguments in order to protect our valuable resource - water. My friends, elections have consequences.
Political Activist, attorney, and former candidate for the Texas House of Representatives
Published in the Waco Tribune-Herald on 5/20/2023