Commissioners' Work Session
Thursday, July 16, 1998
Room 201S, Building E, Park 35, Austin
This meeting is a work session for discussion between commissioners and staff. No public testimony or comment will be accepted except by invitation of the commission.
- Consideration of issues relating to the policy and planning functions of the agency and associated organizational restructuring. Jeff Saitas, Executive Director, presented this item. Chairman McBee moved to approve the following recommendations. Commissioner Marquez seconded the motion which passed unanimously.
- The Commissioners are committed to a sensible approach to the implementation of the BPR recommendations over the next two years. The goal is to systematically complete the consolidation of the agency into a single agency culture. This will include organizational and procedural changes.
- The first step will be to improve the agency’s strategic environmental assessment and planning efforts. To do this the agency will take the following steps:
- By October 1, establish a small office within OPRD to focus on strategic environmental assessment. This group will review agency data collection, assessment and planning processes and develop more unified processes. Positions will come from existing program areas and will include professional senior staff.
- By October 1, hire a new Deputy for OPRD.
- By December 1, add smaller groups with defined assessment and planning functions (not to exceed 50 FTEs).
- After the legislative session, the commission will review which additional assessment and planning functions should be consolidated into this new office.
- The goal of this new office will be to better integrate the environmental information systems of the agency, to make sure that the right information is being collected, to achieve better analysis of the information we collect, and a multi-media, multi-functional approach to environmental protection.
- The Executive Director does not believe these organizational changes will disrupt the core functions of the agency.
- Consideration of issues related to the drought conditions. Ken Petersen (Office of Water Resource Management), John Hofmann (Commissioner Baker’s Executive Assistant), James Kowis (Office of Policy and Regulatory Development), and Robin Smith (Office of Legal Services) presented this item. No specific action was taken. However, staff clarified for the commissioners that while no “trigger level” of water availability existed at which agricultural use would be cut off, irrigation allocation accounts would typically be used up first. Municipal water use would always be considered the highest priority.
- Consideration of issues related to proposed amendments to 30 TAC Chapter 213, Subchapter A: Edwards Aquifer in Medina, Bexar, Comal, Kinney, Uvalde, Hays, Travis, and Williamson Counties and proposed new 30 TAC Chapter 213, Subchapter B, §§213.20 through 213.28, concerning the Contributing Zone to the Edwards Aquifer in Medina, Bexar, Comal, Kinney, Uvalde, Hays, Travis, and Williamson Counties. The proposed amendments and new subchapter would regulate activities having the potential for polluting the Edwards Aquifer and hydro-logically connected surface water by expanding the scope of regulated activities to the contributing zone of the aquifer and providing for water quality performance standards for all best management practices and measures. Arthur Talley, Steve Musik (Office of Water Resource Management), Mary Ambrose (Office of Policy and Regulatory Development), Anthony Tatu (Office of Legal Services), and Larry Smith and Tracy Callen (Field Operations) presented this item. Following discussion the Commissioners deferred final action until August 26, 1998.
- Consideration of activities associated with State Implementation Plans and the proposed Regional Clean Air Strategy. Jim Smith, Jim Thomas (Office of Air Quality), and Herb Williams (Office of Policy and Regulatory Development) presented this item. No action taken.
- Consideration of issues related to the agency’s Strategic Plan, Legislative Appropriations Request, operating budget, and performance partnership grants. Machelle Pharr, Linda Flores, and Jeff Grymkoski (Office of Administrative Services) presented this item. Chairman McBee moved to approve the proposed operating budget subject to certain changes deferred to the executive director. Commissioner Baker seconded the motion which passed unanimously. Regarding the Legislative Appropriations Request, staff was also directed to proceed with appropriations riders as proposed and to continue working to finalize the exceptional items list. No action was taken on the proposed prioritization of measures.
- Consideration of the agency's implementation of legislation enacted by the 75th Texas Legislature including the agency's efforts to work with the Interim Legislative Committees. The commission may also meet in closed meeting to receive legal advice regarding these matters, or any of the above matters, as authorized by Section 551.071 of the Open Meetings Act, Chapter 551 of the Government Code. Any commission action, decision, or vote on these matters will be made in open meeting in accordance with Section 551.102 of the Open Meetings Act, Chapter 551 of the Government Code. David Duncan (Intergovernmental Relations) presented this item. No action taken.
- Planning for the next Commissioners’ Work Session. Dan Eden, John Hofmann, and V.A. Stephens (Commissioners’ Executive Assistants) presented this item. The Clean Water Action Plan and the Municipal Solid Waste items were to be removed and the Edwards Aquifer Rule was to be added to the July 30, 1998 Commissioners’ Work Session (CWS). The previously scheduled CWSs on August 10 and 20 were canceled and replaced by a newly scheduled meeting on August 17, 1998 pending confirmation of the commissioners’ schedules.