Cera bill would aid water sales

COLUMBUS – State Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, has introduced legislation to assist local governments selling water to oil and gas drillers.

“As the oil and gas industry moves forward with hydraulic fracturing, the need for a water source close to the drilling site becomes a vivid reality. The oil and gas industry will need water from local sources, and supply and demand means municipalities will be expected to provide assistance,” stated Cera in a press release.

“I believe local communities will have the opportunity to sell water to the oil and gas industry in the near future. Some communities could benefit by entering into contracts with the industry for water services in anticipation of this increased demand,” Cera said.

“Currently, residents and businesses enter a contract with the local water department for services, and money received by the water department is used for improvements or maintenance to the water system. The bill I introduced will allow a municipality to transfer funds received under such contracts to their general fund. House Bill 134 stipulates that the amount transferred shall not exceed the amount collected under the terms of the contract for the sale of water,” he explained.

“By allowing revenue from these contracts to be used by the municipality to meet the costs of services usually paid for out the general revenue fund, we are able to reinstate some of the services that have been cut. This proposal would allow the money to be used for road maintenance and upkeep, as well as police and fire protection. I see this as a ‘win-win’ for all,” Cera noted.

Cera said the bill has been assigned to the state and local government committee and awaits sponsor testimony.