Texans for Clean Water praises Texas Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs for taking on critical issue of windborne and waterborne litter

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The Texas Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs met on December 8, for an initial interim hearing. One of the crucial issues facing Texas including Texas Agriculture is windborne and waterborne litter that trashes public right of ways and fouls waterways and beaches.

Members of Texans for Clean Water praised members of the Texas Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs for focusing on the issue of wind and water borne litter during the committee’s first interim committee meeting of the 84th Texas Legislature, The committee met on December 8th and discussed a host of issues that its members will address before the start of the 85th Texas Legislature in January, 2017. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick included the important issue of windborne and waterborne litter in the list of interim committee charges the committee members will be tasked with studying during the interim. They will then make recommendations for their legislative to consider in the upcoming session. Witnesses from the City of Fort Worth, City of Fort Stockton and San Marcos River Foundation came before the committee to provide written and oral background information on the litter issue.

“Texans for Clean Water want to thank Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick for charging the committee with studying this issue since it has become a widespread problem affecting all Texans, especially those in rural Texas and those engaged in the agricultural industry. “Litter is a blight that lowers land values; deters economic development, outdoor recreation, and tourism; and diminishes overall quality of life,” said Mike Booth, a leader of the group.

Witnesses at the hearing told committee members about the fact that plastic bags and containers have caused tremendous problems to critical wastewater infrastructure systems in rural communities. They said that rural communities are especially impacted with open landscapes and limited budgets. The City of Fort Stockton became one of the first cities in Texas to ban plastic bags along with other litter control ordinances because of the negative impacts to their residents and economy. “If you leave (litter) alone and don’t take care of it, the rats will take over Texas,” testified Warren Oakley, a City of Fort Stockton Building Official.

“This is a statewide problem with far-reaching economic impact that needs to be addressed. The agriculture industry, hunting enthusiasts, industrial plants and our taxpayer-funded city utilities all must increase costs to deal with this problem of litter in our fields and streams. This is a problem that affects all Texans and quietly increases costs to Texas taxpayers and consumers through taxpayer-funded cleanup and maintenance efforts,” said Booth, who is a well-respected Austin-based water attorney and environmental expert.

Sid Miller, Texas Agriculture Commissioner commenting on the committee’s charge said, "I am pleased and gratified that Lieutenant Governor Patrick has included litter to those issues the Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs will be studying this interim. I look forward to working closely with Chairman Charles Perry and the committee members to find ways to preserve our important Texas natural resources, to help Texas agricultural producers and ensure a way we can hand our children and grandchildren the same beautiful Texas that was handed to us."

Texans for Clean Water was formally organized in 2013 when Mike Garver of Houston and Trammell Crow of Dallas joined forces to bring the problem of floatable debris in our waterways to state and local officials. The goal of Texans for Clean Water is to organize a statewide group of business leaders through a common initiative. Revitalizing our waterways improves neighborhoods, brings recreational opportunities to our communities, and encourages economic growth. Education and collaboration between the business community and the government are key to developing and adopting best practices to prevent storm water debris and litter from entering our waterways. For more information, please visit their website at: http://www.texansforcleanwater.com/

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Maia Corbitt
Texans For Clean Water
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