Hot Off the Press: The 2017 State Water Plan December 2016

The 2011 statewide drought is ranked as the most severe one-year drought on record. In the five years that followed, 16 regional water planning groups throughout the state worked diligently to develop regional water plans that would form the basis for the 2017 State Water Plan to ensure Texans can face an even more severe drought in the next 50 years.

Regional water plans, always developed in five-year planning cycles, enable the planning groups to adapt to changes and apply lessons learned (such as those from the 2011 drought) into the next state water plan. They provide extensive and detailed data on the water supplies, water needs (potential shortages), and population of their respective areas and are critical to the foundation of the state water plan. The regional plans are detailed, comprehensive evaluations that comprise 28 volumes and more than 20,000 pages combined. The TWDB relies on the planning groups for their very specific advice and input as the best experts on their local and regional water issues.

On behalf of the hundreds of Texans that assisted with its development, we are so proud to make available the published 2017 State Water Plan. The plan provides a roadmap for how to address water needs that will accompany the state’s enormous population growth by identifying specific water management strategies and their associated projects and costs for communities all across the state. The information shows how Texas can ensure adequate water supplies for Texas’ communities both now and in the future.

For an at-a-glance overview of the state water plan, check out the infographic below.

The 2017 plan tells us that Texas faces significant water shortages over the next 50 years if steps are not taken to conserve and develop additional water supplies. Rapid population growth is expected, increasing more than 70 percent between 2020 and 2070, from 29.5 million to 51 million people. Water demands are projected to increase by approximately 17 percent between 2020 and 2070, from 18.4 million to 21.6 million acre-feet per year.

During the same 50-year outlook, Texas’ existing water supplies—those that can already be relied on in the event of drought—are expected to decline by approximately 11 percent, from 15.2 million to 13.6 million acre-feet per year. Texas would need to provide 8.9 million acre-feet of additional water supplies to meet all of its demand for water in 2070.

To help meet this demand, approximately 5,500 water management strategies recommended in the 2017 plan would provide 3.4 million acre-feet per year in additional water supplies to water user groups in 2020 and 8.5 million acre-feet per year in 2070. Of the strategy supplies in 2070, approximately 45 percent are based on conservation, drought management, and reuse; 45 percent on surface water resources; and 10 percent on groundwater. Conservation is by far the most frequently recommended strategy found in all regional water plans.

The estimated capital cost to design, construct, and implement approximately 2,500 recommended water management strategy projects by 2070 is $63 billion, including over $4 billion in costs associated with conservation projects. The TWDB offers a variety of cost-effective financial support programs that fund state water plan projects, including the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas program (SWIFT).* The application period for the 2017 funding cycle of SWIFT is open through February 3, 2017.

If you would like a copy of the 2017 State Water Plan, please contact Sarah Backhouse at An online, interactive state water plan is also available and provides additional information through customized views of planning data at the local, regional, and statewide level.

State Water Plan 2017 Overview infographics

* 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 SWIRFT.