The 2016 State of Texas Water January 2016
What a year it's been for Texas! The state experienced almost every imaginable type of weather. Areas of Texas that had been parched for years saw their reservoirs fill with much needed rainfall, while other parts of the state are still thirsty, and still others are recovering from floods. Much of the state bounced back and forth from drought to flood and back again. No matter what the weather brings, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is here to provide affordable and sustainable water for all Texans.
One of the ways we achieve this is by providing financial assistance for projects in the state water plan. We closed on nearly $900 million in loans in the first round of funding from the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) program* in 2015. The projects funded through SWIFT include transmission pipelines, canal linings, brackish desalination, and metering systems. We estimate that the 20 project sponsors saved at least $106 million on 30 projects through SWIFT’s low-cost financing in this first year.
Abridged applications for the second round of the SWIFT program are due by February 5, 2016. We hope that this financial assistance will reach even more communities and continue to bring in projects that will help establish a reliable and dependable water future for our state.
Besides serving as a multi-billion dollar water infrastructure bank, we also advance water research, conservation, and science as well as innovative technologies.
To accomplish those goals, our agency has been tasked with a number of projects, including mapping brackish aquifers in Texas, which will help determine what areas of the state have a high availability of brackish groundwater. Additionally, we are working on aquifer storage and recovery feasibility studies and demonstration projects to increase the availability of water through the use of innovative storage approaches.
We've launched a new Water Data Interactive website this year that displays groundwater data sets with enhanced tools for viewing and downloading all our available groundwater data. The Texas Well Report Submission and Retrieval System for water well drillers has been redesigned to make it easier to enter well reports
It's also now simpler for water utilities to submit water loss audits, which are due May 1 of each year. Data entered into the Water Use Survey now auto-populates into the water loss audit database making for a more efficient process and ensuring consistent data.
In November, Governor Greg Abbott authorized the transfer of $6.8 million in emergency flood funding to the TWDB. The funds will be used to expand flood gaging and monitoring and to provide additional technical assistance and outreach for floodplain management and planning.
As the state's lead water planners, we are finalizing the 2017 State Water Plan, starting the next regional planning process, working on how to improve and automate drought early warning tools, and providing outreach throughout the state. Come drought or high water, we’re prepared to take on future water challenges.
*The SWIFT program includes two funds, the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas (SWIRFT). Revenue bonds for the program are issued through the SWIRFT.