The Latest on the Texas statehouse (all times local):1:50 p.m.
Greg Abbott is calling for a delay in the passage of the Senate bill that would give the state more water rights.
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Abbott said in a statement Friday that he is not satisfied with the Senate’s bill, which has drawn the ire of environmental groups and some lawmakers.
Abbott wants to work with lawmakers to develop a plan that can pass the House and send the bill to his desk, he said.
The governor’s statement comes a day after lawmakers gave the green light to the Senate version of the legislation, which passed the Senate last week by a 56-26 vote.
The bill would give Texas water districts the ability to collect and use groundwater as well as tap water from wells on private and public lands.
The Senate bill, authored by Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, would allow water districts to collect groundwater as much as 8 inches deep.
But Patrick, who is the chairman of the House committee that is negotiating the legislation with the governor’s office, has warned that the bill is too broad and could create “potentially serious problems” with water supply in some areas.
The state’s largest water districts, including Texas Central, are among the largest in the country.
They also are responsible for the vast majority of the state’s water infrastructure.
The legislation has drawn criticism from environmental groups that have questioned the bill’s potential to harm groundwater resources in Texas, including Lake Powell, the largest reservoir in the U.S. The lake has become a key source of drinking water for many of the nation’s poorest communities.
The House bill would allow groundwater districts to tap up to 6.8 million acre-feet of groundwater, about the same amount as Lake Powell.
It would also require the water districts and counties to establish “green water” standards for water quality and to make sure they meet those standards.
The water districts are the largest providers of water in Texas and would also receive a tax credit for water and wastewater.
Patrick has also raised concerns about the legislation’s potential for over-consumption of groundwater.
In recent months, Texas has experienced a surge in water use that has led to shortages of potable water and the closure of wells.
The Senate bill would provide more protection for water users, he argued.
“What the bill will do is allow the Legislature to take the first step in helping to preserve this precious resource for future generations,” he said in an email Friday.