Texas is to get a $1 billion boost in water rights from the U.S. Senate, which approved a $3 billion water deal with the state Tuesday.
It will help the state meet federal water conservation standards and expand its supply to more people, said Senator Lois Kolkhorst, Democrat of Lake Louis.
The bill also will give the state a permanent source of water for its rural population, she said.
The deal comes as Texas grapples with a record drought that has caused water-intensive agriculture and businesses to close or shift to other states.
But it also provides Texas with a significant boost to help it fight a devastating wave of hurricanes that hit the state in late August and early September.
It also gives Texas an opportunity to develop new water rights.
It includes the $3.2 billion for the Texas-Mexico border in Texas and a new water reservoir to meet demand for water from the state’s agricultural sector, said Kolktorst, a Republican.
Kolktoft also pushed for an increase in the amount of water the state can use for agriculture, which is expected to be $600 million this year.
The House of Representatives approved the bill Wednesday and sent it to the Senate.
The Senate has not yet approved the measure.
The legislation will also allow farmers to use the water to irrigate crops on public lands, including water from Lake Travis and the Lake Charles river.
“We are getting a boost for agriculture and we are getting some water that is going to be much more useful for agriculture,” said Senator Diane Black, Republican of Austin.
She voted against the bill because it would make the state less competitive in water conservation.
The water deal is one of the few legislative wins for Texas that has not been tied to the drought.
But many Democrats and Republicans have objected to it.
The state’s water agency, the Texas Water Development Board, is required to report quarterly to Congress on water conservation, which could help Texas meet its water conservation goals.
Krakauer reported from Austin.