Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry's Remarks Regarding the TCEQ Water Response System

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Monday, October 11, 2004  •  Speech

Thank you.  It is my honor to be joined by Commissioner Larry Soward, Senator Kip Averitt, and John Cowan, Executive Director of the Texas Association of Dairymen.  It’s good to be back in the Brazos River Valley, a beautiful part of the state, and one that faces unique challenges when it comes to ensuring a safe and clean water supply.

Water is not only the key to life, it is the key to the future of our state.  It irrigates our farms, runs our businesses and keeps our families healthy.  We swim in it, fish in it and boat on it.  Water adds beauty to the landscape and provides habitat for many species of aquatic plants and animals.  And we have a responsibility to protect it for our citizens and for future generations.

That’s why we are here today to announce a new pilot program that represents a major step forward in the battle to reduce pollution, clean our water, and ensure the health and safety of our citizens.  The Environmental Monitoring and Response System Water Pilot Project will help government and the private sector work together and use the latest scientific advancements to protect our water quality, not only in the Leon-Bosque watershed, but potentially in other areas of Texas as well.

This initiative will deploy state of the art streamside monitors at four strategic locations in the Leon-Bosque watershed: at this location on the North Bosque River, near Clairette on the Green Creek, Dublin on Resley Creek, and Gatesville on the Leon River.  Every six hours these monitors will analyze water samples and monitor nutrient levels, specifically reactive phosphate, nitrate and ammonia.  When nutrient levels are too high, electronic notifications will be sent immediately to interested parties upstream and downstream, the TCEQ regional office in Stephenville, and headquarters in Austin.  This system will allow TCEQ inspectors to quickly begin searching for the source of the problem, and take appropriate actions to protect the water supply.  And it will give our dairy farmers, municipalities and industrial producers the ability to take proactive steps to ensure that they contribute to protecting our sources of water, a responsibility I know they take very seriously.

We chose the Leon-Bosque watershed as the proving ground for this program because it is in the heart of dairy country, and we know that the large number of dairy operations in the area, in addition to wastewater discharges from other sources, can have an effect on water quality.  Because of this cooperative effort between the state and private industry, I am confident that we can solve this complex problem here in the Waco area, and that we will be able to use our successes here as a model for similar programs in other parts of the state.

This water quality project will help protect the water that flows into Lake Waco, and that serves as the drinking supply for the citizens of Waco.  Water is vital to our way of life.  That’s why I have not only advocated better conservation, but the development of new sources, including the desalination of gulf coast water that has the great potential to meet the demands of growth and reduce the friction among communities competing for this vital resource. 

To better protect our water and our air, we need to be able to more rapidly respond to pollution incidents.  We have already demonstrated that the underlying principles of the Environmental Monitoring and Response System are sound, and can have a tremendous impact on our efforts to keep our environment clean.  In Harris County, we launched a similar pilot program to monitor the release of highly reactive volatile organic compounds that rapidly trigger the formation of ozone in our air.  With early detection, local officials and industry leaders are able to take corrective action before air pollution incidents rise to the level of a public danger.

I appreciate those who have joined us in this important effort, and together I believe that we can ensure a safe and clean water supply for all the people of Texas.

Thank you.  And now I would like to introduce TCEQ Commissioner Larry Soward to talk more about this initiative.

I would also like to introduce Senator Kip Averitt to say a few words.

And finally, the Executive Director of the Texas Association of Dairymen, John Cowan.

Governor's Initiatives:
Seawater Desalination in Texas »
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