State Representative Lyle Larson's sentences rushed to get out. Each new one collided into its predecessor like a bumper car. Speaking at the largest annual water conference in Texas on a recent Wednesday morning, a tall figure shifting his weight behind the podium, he lunged from one big thought to the next, from the critical role desalination will play in the state's future to the effect of all the Mark Cuban-drawn attention to shit (my word, not his) in the San Antonio River. He also jumped all over the map, from Texas cities to Las Vegas to Australia. All in 15 minutes. At the end of his keynote word-blender, the idea that stuck most was that the state needs to start spending serious money so that its water sources can keep up with its booming population.
The first 45 minutes of the opening session at the Convention Center had been a snoozefest. Nervous presidents of two water-industry trade groups plodded through their comments. A couple of other speakers made equally jittery speeches. Meanwhile, Larson waited near one of the exits, chatting with SAWS chief executive Robert Puente.
Five days later, I met the freshman GOP lawmaker, 53, in his tiny District 122 office on San Pedro Avenue. When I mentioned that I'd been in the audience, he asked if I'd managed to stay awake.