Prop 6 passes; Texas Water Development Board prepares to take on new challenges

For immediate release.  Contact: Kimberly Leggett at 512-463-5129

Austin (November 12, 2013) - November 5 marked the passage of Proposition 6 - an amendment to the Texas Constitution that will create funds to help communities develop and optimize water supplies at cost-effective interest rates.  Today, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) continues to provide leadership, planning, financial assistance, information, and education for the conservation and responsible development of water for Texas, while preparing to take on the new challenges resulting from this legislation.

"This is an important time for Texans," says TWDB Chair Carlos Rubinstein. "TWDB leadership and staff are already at work implementing the provisions of HB 4.  Last week we restructured the agency to include six planning and development teams to better address the needs of each of the existing 16 Regional Water Planning areas.

"Each team has a staff member that represents the agency's core areas for developing and financing water projects to help ensure better customer service," Rubinstein says.

One of the requirements of the legislation is to apply not less than 10 percent of the new funds to projects serving rural communities and Texas farmers.  As a result, TWDB has created a new position: Agriculture and Rural Texas Ombudsman.

"Rural and agricultural stakeholders are an important part of our water planning process," says TWDB Board Member Mary Ann Williamson. "This new staff member will serve as a liaison, providing agency resources that can help rural communities plan for future water needs."

TWDB will also create a team to begin the process of developing rules for prioritizing water projects.  We will be using a public rulemaking process to develop these criteria.

"We'll be asking for public input.  We want Texans to participate in this process to ensure an open discussion," says Board Member Bech Bruun.

As part of the prioritization process, regional planning groups will have to deliver by Dec. 1, 2013, uniform standards so they can begin ranking water projects within their respective regions.  Representatives from Texas' 16 regional water planning groups have already held several meetings and are making substantial progress.

The TWDB is the state agency charged with collecting and disseminating water-related data, assisting with regional planning and preparing the state water plan for the development of the state’s water resources. The TWDB administers cost-effective financial assistance programs for the construction of water supply, wastewater treatment, flood control, and agricultural water conservation projects.