SB 1122: Support Ensuring Texas Power Plants and Mines Maintain Access to Groundwater

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SB 1122 by Estes – Relating to a limitation on the authority to curtail groundwater production from wells used for power generation or mining.

AECT Position: Support

 

Proposal

  • SB 1122 amends the Texas Water Code to ensure that permitted or historic use of groundwater that supports a power plant or its associated mine cannot be curtailed by a groundwater conservation district (GCD).

 

AECT Discussion

  • This bill serves one purpose: to promote a sufficient supply of electricity by protecting the historic use of groundwater by power plants and associated mines.
  • Power plants use groundwater for very limited uses: to ensure boiler water remains at a constant level; provide potable water for employees; and maintain fire protection systems.
  • Mines pump groundwater to enable safe excavation of the soil, control dust, dewater mines to ensure mines are not caved in, and to provide potable water for employees.
  • Power plants and mines require sustained access to groundwater, as they are frequently located well outside municipal water systems.
  • While power plant and mine access to groundwater is critically important, the total amount of groundwater used is very small.
  • Statewide, the groundwater pumped for power and mining use in 2012 was only 1.6% of all groundwater pumped. That is a small percentage of the total groundwater pumped in Texas.
  • Yet that access to groundwater is vital to the continued operation of power plants and mines, ensuring reliable electricity for the customers they serve.

SB 1122 will promote continued electric reliability by prohibiting curtailment of groundwater.

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