Water Policy in Texas: A Comprehensive Overview




Warren, Emily

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To appropriately discuss current water policy in Texas, a comprehensive report providing a general overview of a wide range of water resource topics has been developed. This report will assist in highlighting the state’s current water management strategies and in what way such methods could be improved. Currently, a document of this breadth has yet to be made available for individuals and groups to base their projections on Texas’ water-related future. In this report we review the major sources of discussion among Texas residence and policy professionals. These topics can generally be grouped into four criteria. First, a more general basis of Texas water resources is examined in the first three sections. This includes an overview of the historical context of Texas policy, the institutional actors involved in managing and implanting policy, and the geography of Texas water resources. Second, three sections to diagnose specific issues found in the various waters within Texas’ boarders, groundwater, surface water, and coastal water. Third, four adaptive management strategies in our state to better manage Texas water: instream and environmental flows policy, habitat conservation approaches, and environmental education. These especially surrounding water resources issues such as: transboundary policy, the energy-water nexus, climate modification, and the 83rd Legislative Session. Additionally, it is important to note the time period that has been observed throughout this report. This frame of reference includes policy made through November 2013. Thus, results of passage of Proposition 6 will not be discussed. We chose to discuss these sections for their fundamental importance in current and future water policy. As more cutting edge discussion begins to surface, and the complexities of industry, urban expansion and resource scarcity become more important, our policies and institutions must prove their effectiveness and importance within this changing state. In particular, the goal for this review was to expose specific gaps in policy that may need further review and potential amending. Finally, provided here is an opportunity to analyze how policy has adopted new social and economic issues (e.g. hydraulic fracturing, population increase, etc.) in Texas. Such a review will not only give current policy analysts a resource for general education but also initiate a discussion about what it is that could be improved in state policy to better protect Texas’ precious water resource and fragile ecosystems.



water policy, water quality, conservation, groundwater


Warren, E. (2013). Water policy in Texas: A comprehensive overview (Report No. 2013-35). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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