A new path forward for TWDB December 2013
On Sept. 1, 2013, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) began serving the citizens of Texas under a new management structure with three full-time Board members. Between that time and the successful passage of Proposition 6 on Nov. 5, both the new Board members and agency staff have been hard at work preparing to implement the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) and to respond to other new legislation.
The Board appointed a new executive administrator on Oct. 1. We have also restructured the agency to create planning and development teams organized into geographic areas. These new teams will help expedite the financial application process and coordinate with regional water planning groups.
Several tasks must be accomplished before the monies made available through the SWIFT can start funding water projects across the state.
First, representatives from Texas' 16 regional planning groups had to develop uniform standard to prioritize water projects at the regional level. They have submitted those standards to TWDB for approval. The standards considered feasibility, viability, sustainability and cost effectiveness. The planning group representatives began discussions in mid-September and subsequently met for three two-day meetings and held several conference calls to develop the uniform standards.
Concurrently, TWDB is creating a team to seek public input to start developing rules to administer the SWIFT and prioritize projects at the state level. Over the next several months, TWDB will be holding public meetings and soliciting public input as we develop those rules.
Other tasks have been achieved since TWDB's new board members began their terms:
- On Oct. 17, population and water demand projections to be used in the 2016 regional water plans were adopted by the Board.
- On Nov. 6, the agency announced a new position for an Agriculture and Rural Ombudsman to help us reach out to rural communities and address their water supply needs.
- Along with the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association, TWDB helped develop three webinars to help entities required to revise their water conservation plans.
- The agency drafted agency rules to implement House Bill 857, requiring public utilities with more than 3,300 connections to submit an annual water loss audit.
- TWDB launched a newly developed drought website.
In the past three months, TWDB's outreach efforts have significantly expanded. Board members have made 52 public appearances for events like speaking engagements, public meetings, and other meetings where they were a resource. They have had 31 meetings with 12 different financial firms and held four Board meetings and two work sessions in an effort to offer more opportunities for public input and dialogue.
As the processes and standards for implementing the SWIFT develop over the coming months, we'll continue to inform Texas water users about our progress.