Community Profile – Pairing Regionalization with Local Control in Lubbock County

Across four small clusters of homes in the Texas panhandle, residents were seeing dirty, contaminated water in their taps. Nearly 300 households were dutifully paying their monthly water bill, but the water was so contaminated they couldn’t drink it. The residents of the four systems came together and collaborated to find a solution.  With the help of a management company, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the Water Finance Exchange, those residents created the South Plains Water Supply Corporation (SPWSC), a quasi-governmental entity which could take control of the four systems and empower the residents to address the issues.

The residents were able to embrace a regional approach to water infrastructure while maintaining – even expanding – local control. Their story demonstrates the importance in creating the appropriate legal and financial framework that can empower communities and offer a pathway to funding.  Their efforts will benefit from the recent passage of Texas House Bill 3232. The “Safe Harbor Bill” allows community groups like the SPWSC to consolidate failing systems without immediately facing insurmountable regulatory challenges. HB 3232 specifically assists in putting these communities on a path toward compliant operation while setting aside the threat of fines from the state environmental regulatory agency, which allows all efforts and investments go towards compliance and sustainable operation of an improved water utility.

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