FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 11/30/2016
State Representative Mary Gonzalez Files Bill To Bring $200 million in Water and Wastewater Services for Economically Distressed Areas
El Paso, Texas-State Representative Mary Gonzalez announced the filing of House Joint Resolution 36, proposing a constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of an additional $200 million in general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board to provide assistance to economically distressed areas.
The Economically Distressed Areas Program (EDAP) provides financial assistance to build water and wastewater services to areas where services do not exist or current services do not meet minimum state standards.
"EDAP has been extremely successful in providing financial assistance to some of Texas' most underserved communities. While our bond money may be running out, our needs have not stopped," said Rep. Mary Gonzalez. "It's crucial, and fiscally responsible, that we continue to fund a program that has spent $22 million on active projects currently. To run out of money would mean a halt to over a dozen projects across the state. It would be a waste of taxpayers' dollars and mean no improvement for Texans."
Currently, 14 counties throughout the Texas are benefiting from the program, but the need for infrastructure vastly outweighs the remaining resources. Existing El Paso County projects are in need of $38,526,700 for completion while having already been awarded $540,746. All but one million of needed funding in El Paso will go to wastewater infrastructure in the Montana Vista area. Current and pending projects across Texas total over $162 million across 20 projects.
By the end of FY 2017, only $51 million of authorized but unobligated general obligation bonds will remain.
EDAP was first created in 1989 and additional bonds were authorized in 2007. $500 million worth of bonds have been authorized in that time. It is estimated that approximately 486,830 Texans have benefited from improved water and wastewater services via EDAP.
HJR 36 requires a 2/3 majority in both the House and Senate. After the Governor signs HJR 36 into law, it would then be placed on the ballot in 2017 for voter approval.