AUSTIN, TX (June 12, 2015) - Governor Greg Abbott signed into law HB 2031 authored by State Representative Eddie Lucio, III and sponsored by Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa. HB 2031 allows for the diversion, treatment, and use of marine seawater for desalination, the process of converting seawater into drinking water and other beneficial purposes. This significant legislation would streamline the regulatory process and reduce the time required for and cost of seawater desalination consistent with appropriate environmental and water rights protections.

Senator Hinojosa issued the following statement:

"I thank Governor Abbott for signing into law this critical legislation recognizing that water security is the most pressing social and economic challenge of our time. Water is vital to life and the development of our society and economies. With the neighboring Gulf of Mexico, Texas is uniquely positioned to take advantage of advancements in seawater desalination that could provide for a potential new source of drinking water.

Texas has the strongest economy in the nation and leads in population growth, creating greater demand for water. Seawater desalination, already common in South America and the Middle East, needs to be explored as the state strives to meet the future water needs of our citizens, agriculture, and industry. The future prosperity of Texas depends heavily on the availability of water, and it is imperative that we take significant steps toward the planning and development of desalination."

HB 2031 creates Chapter 18 of the Water Code relating to Marine Seawater Desalination Projects and allows entities to obtain permits to divert and use seawater and to discharge seawater in accordance with rules established by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the General Land Office (GLO) are also required to jointly conduct a study to identify zones in the Gulf of Mexico that would be appropriate for the diversion or the discharge of seawater, taking into account the protection of marine organisms.

Additionally, HB 2031 requires TCEQ to adopt rules to allow seawater treated by a desalination facility to be used as public drinking water as long as it meets Health and Safety Code standards. This legislation is the result of much stakeholder input to create a workable permitting process to make use of the vast quantities of marine seawater from the Gulf of Mexico while also protecting our state's bays and estuaries.

Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa proudly represents the counties of Nueces, Jim Wells, Brooks, and Hidalgo (part). Senator Hinojosa serves as the Senate President Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate in the 84th Texas Legislature. Senator Hinojosa currently serves as Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, and serves on the Senate Committees on Natural Resources & Economic Development, Criminal Justice, Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs as well as the Legislative Budget Board (LBB), and the Sunset Advisory Commission.