Zen Zheng, Houston Chronicle, wrote the following article. The item was published on April 4, 2011, and provides an update on the status of Senate Bill 683, which affects Fort Bend County.
The Texas Senate has unanimously passed a bill to allow Fort Bend and Brazoria counties to have voting power for the first time on the Gulf Coast Water Authority Board. Senate Bill 683, drafted by Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Lake Jackson, and its companion House Bill 3621, authored by Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, would bring the number of voting members from seven to nine.
Local authorities, including Fort Bend County Commissioners Court and Sugar Land Mayor James Thompson, support the legislation. Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert called the two counties’ ability to add voting members to the board “a simple matter of fairness and equity.”
The water authority board opposes both bills and has hired a lobbyist to block Bonnen’s proposed legislation, which the House is expected to consider soon, Sugar Land city officials said. The Senate bill, which was passed on a 30-0 vote, would grant the power to two non-voting representatives – one from each of the two counties – who participate in discussions during board meetings with the seven regular voting board members, who are all appointed by Galveston County Commissioners Court.
The new legislation would enable Fort Bend and Brazoria county commissioners to appoint new voting members to the board. The water authority owns and operates rivers, creeks and man-made channels that provide surface water in Galveston, Fort Bend and Brazoria counties.
Since its creation in 1965, the authority, which serves residents, cities and industries, has grown in both capacity and customer base that reach far beyond Galveston County. Nearly 40 percent of the total contracted water volume is provided to Fort Bend and Brazoria counties.