Flood Planning
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why are we planning for floods?

In the wake of historic flooding in Texas, the 2019 Texas Legislature passed legislation to create Texas' first-ever regional and state flood planning process and provide funding for investments in flood science and mapping efforts to support plan development. The legislature created a state flood planning framework and charged the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) with creating flood planning regions based on river basins and administering the required, ongoing work of flood planning. This effort is aimed at better managing flood risk to reduce loss of life and property from flooding.

Additionally, the legislature created a new flood financial assistance fund and charged the TWDB with administering the fund. The Flood Infrastructure Fund, as approved by Texas voters in November 2019, will be used to finance flood-related projects.

Texas Water Code §16.061 requires regional flood planning groups to deliver regional flood plans to the TWDB on January 10, 2023, and every five years thereafter. The state flood plan, to be based on adopted regional plans, must be prepared and adopted by the TWDB by September 1, 2024, and every five years thereafter.

Texas Water Code §16.062 requires the TWDB to designate flood planning regions and representatives from each region to serve as the initial regional flood planning group members. The TWDB will provide technical and financial support for the flood planning groups and adopt guidance principles for regional and state flood planning.

This groundbreaking flood planning effort will identify specific flood risks as well as strategies to reduce those risks in coming years.

What has the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) completed to date?

The TWDB:

  • Held public meetings across the state in summer 2019 to solicit ideas and comments before drafting agency rules.
  • Adopted agency rules for the Flood Infrastructure Fund financing program and opened the application period.
  • Received over 280 abridged applications by the June 15, 2020, deadline.
  • Designated the boundaries for the new 15 flood planning regions.
  • Adopted rules to begin the regional flood planning process.

How do I find out which flood planning region I am located in, and how can I get involved with the regional flood planning group?

To determine which flood planning region you are geographically located in, please review the flood planning region boundary map. To become involved with the regional flood planning group, the TWDB recommends attending a planning group meeting. A list of upcoming meeting dates and locations for each regional flood planning group will be posted on our website once available.

What are the responsibilities of a regional flood planning group, and how will they operate?

Each regional flood planning group will be responsible for developing a regional flood plan by January 2023. Based on the regional flood plans, the TWDB will prepare and adopt the Texas' first-ever state flood plan and present it to the Texas Legislature in September 2024.

The TWDB will provide grant funds to planning groups, enabling them to hire technical consultants to perform much of the work necessary to develop the regional flood plans. Regional flood plans are required to be based on the best available science, data, models, and flood risk mapping. Each self-governed regional flood planning group will be responsible for

  • holding regular public meetings and adding additional voting or non-voting members if they are considered necessary;
  • choosing a planning group sponsor as its administrative agent;
  • selecting and directing the work of its technical consultant (to be procured by the planning group sponsor);
  • soliciting and considering public input and making all necessary decisions to develop and adopt its regional flood plan;
  • identifying specific flood risks and the need for assessing those risks as well as setting flood risk reduction goals. The three-step flood risk analysis comprises
    • flood hazard analyses that determines location, magnitude, and frequency of flooding;
    • flood exposure analyses to identify who and what might be harmed within the region; and
    • vulnerability analyses to identify vulnerabilities of communities and critical facilities;
  • identifying and recommending flood management evaluations and strategies and flood mitigation projects to reduce flood risk in their regions; and
  • focusing both on reducing existing flood risks to life and property and on floodplain management in general to avoid increasing flood risk in the future by keeping future populations out of the way of flood flows.

What are the responsibilities of a planning group sponsor, and how will they be selected?

Each regional flood planning group is responsible for designating a planning group sponsor to apply for funding and to otherwise support the planning process. To assist the regional flood planning groups in initiating their planning efforts, the TWDB will prepare a list of entities that expressed interest to the TWDB and provide that list to the groups at their first meeting. The planning groups will not be limited to choosing a planning group sponsor from the list provided by the TWDB.

A planning group sponsor must be a political subdivision, defined as a county, city, or other body politic or corporate of the state, including any district or authority created under Art. 3 § 52 or Art. 16 § 59 of the Texas Constitution. Eligible sponsors may also include any interstate compact commission to which the state is a party and any nonprofit water supply corporation created and operating under Ch. 6.

The planning group sponsor will be responsible for

  • preparing and submitting grant funding applications to the TWDB on behalf of the regional flood planning group;
  • entering into and managing a contract with the TWDB for the management of the grant funds;
  • procuring and managing a contract with a technical consultant(s) selected by the regional flood planning group to support the development or revision of a regional flood plan;
  • serving as the regional flood planning group’s administrative agent by organizing planning group meetings, public notices, agendas, meeting presentations, handouts, and meeting minutes; and
  • delivering the first regional flood plan, on behalf of the planning group, no later than January 10, 2023.

Are regional flood planning group meetings open to the public? What public notice requirements apply to regional flood planning group meetings?

All meetings of regional flood planning group and their committees or subcommittees are open to the public and subject to the Texas Open Meetings Act, Chapter 551 of the Texas Government Code. The minimum public notice for planning group meetings is 7 days in accordance with the TWDB’s regional flood planning rules, which require additional notice and public comment periods for some regional flood planning group activities.

Does the TWDB have guidance on regional flood planning group membership?

Texas Water Code §16.062 requires the TWDB to designate representatives from each flood planning region to serve as members of the initial regional flood planning group. All subsequent members will be determined by the regional flood planning groups. In accordance with TWDB rules (31 Texas Administrative Code §361.11(e)), each regional flood planning group must maintain at least one voting member from each of the following interest categories: the public, counties, municipalities, industry, agriculture, environment, small business, electric-generating utilities, river authorities, water districts, water utilities, and flood districts. Regional flood planning group members are expected to be capable of adequately representing their assigned interest category in the region for which they serve.

Each regional flood planning group, at its discretion, may add additional voting or non-voting members for any additional interest category needed to represent the region or add additional members to the required interest categories. Regional flood planning groups may also remove representatives, as long as the minimum requirements for the categories listed above are maintained. In filling future flood planning group membership the planning group will be responsible for deciding who is best to represent each interest category on the planning group; however, the planning group must follow their bylaws regarding member solicitations and decisions.

What is the process for replacing regional flood planning group members if a member is no longer available to serve?

Each regional flood planning group will be required to establish its own bylaws after their initial formation in accordance with 31 Texas Administrative Code §361.11(d). Bylaws will describe processes for replacing and selecting new regional flood planning group members and whether or not the regional flood planning group will allow designated alternates to represent voting members. The TWDB will provide a standard set of model bylaws to each regional flood planning group for initial consideration.

How is flood planning different than water supply planning?

In very simple terms, flood planning tends to focus on avoiding high flood water flows associated with short duration, high rainfall events, whereas water supply planning focuses on providing reliable water supplies throughout extended periods of extremely low rainfall. Flood planning is aimed at reducing or preventing loss of life and physical damage to property from flood waters, and water supply planning focuses on protecting public health and safety (e.g., via sanitation) and avoiding economic losses associated with water shortages.

Flood planning and water supply planning rely on very different parameters, data, models, and technical analyses. There are many differences between how they are approached including the following:

  • Flood planning activities are best conducted by closely following watershed boundaries (e.g., river basins) since floods occur within and are generally physically constrained by the geography of watersheds, whereas water supplies may be obtained from a variety of places, including other river basins.
  • Flood and water planning rely on different benchmarks: high water levels created by, for example, the 1 percent annual chance flood event is commonly used for flood planning, whereas water planning in Texas considers the repeat of the drought of record.

Nonetheless, there may be strategies that intersect both the flood planning and water supply planning realms. For example, some water supply management strategies rely on storing streamflows associated with high rainfall events for later use as water supply during drought conditions. Some off-channel reservoirs in particular may rely primarily on diversions from a river’s main stem, which would only occur during high flow (i.e., flood) events. However, the water supply reservoirs themselves may not provide even incidental flood mitigation benefits especially during periods when the reservoir would be held full for water supply purposes. In general, each unit of storage volume within any reservoir is only dedicated to a single purpose: either flood control or water supply storage – but storage cannot be used for both flood and water supply simultaneously since these have countervailing purposes.

Will TWDB use the same prioritization framework used for the Draft Flood Intended Use Plan (FIUP) for Fiscal Year 2020 to prioritize projects in the state flood plan?

No. The 2020 FIUP details the structure of the first FIF program funding cycle, including the prioritization of applications received; it will not be the basis for the prioritization of the projects in the state flood plan. The criteria to be used for ranking flood management evaluations and strategies and flood mitigation projects in the state flood plan has yet to be determined and will be developed through a transparent process with public input.

Future state financial assistance to implement projects in the state flood plan is anticipated to occur in accordance with existing program requirements or, if there are dedicated funds, under an associated Flood Intended Use Plan that would likely use the ranking in the state flood plan as one of the prioritization criteria for allocating funding.

Is every regional flood planning group going to have a separate regional flood plan?

Yes, each regional flood planning group shall deliver a draft and final, adopted regional flood plan to the TWDB for review and approval. Each regional flood plan is required to be developed based on the common state planning framework requirements and in accordance with statute; agency rules (31 Texas Administrative Code §361.50); the planning grant contracts; and associated Executive Administrator guidance.

How will the regional flood planning groups, planning group sponsor, and the TWDB work together?

Based on its rules and contract requirements, the TWDB will administer the regional planning process through regional flood planning grant contracts. The TWDB will enter these contracts with the planning group sponsor, who will be acting on behalf of the planning group. The planning group will select a technical consultant and the planning group sponsor will then procure the technical consultant. The TWDB anticipates that the Chairs and members of the regional flood planning group and planning group sponsor will communicate and liaise as much as necessary with the TWDB to ensure participants are successfully oriented and a regional flood plan is completed and submitted. Importantly, per 31 Texas Administrative Code §361.11(f)(1), each regional flood planning group will have a designated non-voting TWDB staff representative who will attend planning group meetings and support the group. This TWDB staff member will manage the grant contract with the planning group sponsor and, upon request, will answer questions and provide orientation materials at the planning group meetings.

How will the regional flood plans be implemented?

Eventual implementation of adopted regional flood plan policies and projects will rely on local and regional entities and specific project sponsors in cooperation with participating entities, as necessary.

What population data will the regional flood planning group use?

The regional flood planning groups will use population projections contained in the most recently adopted state water plan as further assembled geographically, based on HUC 8 watersheds or other appropriate flood-related geographic features determined by the TWDB.

What is a flood management evaluation?

A flood management evaluation is a proposed study, with an associated cost, of a specific, flood-prone area that is needed in order to assess flood risk and/or determine whether there are potentially feasible flood management strategies or flood mitigation projects.

What is the difference between a flood management strategy and a flood mitigation project?

A flood management strategy is a proposed plan to reduce flood risk or mitigate hazards to life or property that are caused by flood. A flood management strategy may or may not require infrastructure projects to be implemented.

A flood mitigation project is a proposed project, both structural and non-structural, that may be required to implement a flood management strategy. Flood mitigation projects have capital costs or other non-recurring costs and are designed to reduce flood risk and mitigate flood hazards to life or property. A single flood mitigation project may be associated with multiple flood management strategies or vice versa. As part of the flood planning process, regional flood planning groups will identify and recommend flood management strategies and flood mitigation projects.

How are other flood planning activities considered in the state's regional flood planning process?

Regional flood planning groups are expected to consider a wide variety of available, relevant information and tools when developing regional flood plans, including other regional and local flood planning studies. The planning groups will be expected to work cooperatively with other entities conducting flood planning activities in the region to avoid duplication of effort and to make the best and most efficient use of local, state, and federal resources. Additionally, no funds will be provided by the TWDB to regional flood planning groups for activities for which the TWDB determines existing information, data, or analyses are sufficient for the planning effort.

How are regional projects considered in the planning process?

The development of regional flood mitigation projects is a potentially feasible flood management strategy that must be considered in accordance with Texas Water Code §16.062(e). The decision whether to recommend a particular flood management strategy or flood mitigation project is the responsibility of the regional flood planning groups.

Do regional flood planning group members have immunity from personally liability?

Yes, members of a regional flood planning group are entitled to official immunity for acts performed in good faith within the scope of their official capacity.

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