Numerous Funding Programs Create Water and Savings for Texas Communities February 2015
In the last several months, the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas, or SWIFT, has been a major topic of discussion in Texas’ world of water financing. The steps taken by regional water planning groups, state legislators, Texas voters, and the Board members and staff of the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) to build this specific financial assistance program were unprecedented and will result in historic levels of funding for water projects across the state.
Fortunately for Texans, SWIFT is just one piece of the financial assistance pie that the TWDB offers to fund water projects in the Lone Star State. Since its inception in 1957, the TWDB has funded more than $15 billion in water projects through more than a dozen other financial assistance programs.
"We want Texans to understand that there is an abundance of financing options available to them from the TWDB," said TWDB Chairman Carlos Rubinstein. “We have been helping communities meet their water needs for more than 50 years, and we’ll tailor financing packages using one or more programs to meet the needs of local entities and their rate payers."
Created to ensure that Texans would have enough water in times of drought, the TWDB serves as a sort of bank that finances water projects for Texas. It also provides planning and educational services to help prepare for the future, but it’s the ability to cut checks that pushes water projects off the page and into production.
For Texas, which is growing faster than any other state, and whose population was already the second highest in the country (U.S. Census, 2014), funding water projects is a statewide priority. However, given Texas’ diverse geographical climates, regional populations, and commercial industries, there is no singular strategy to fix the challenges in each corner of the state. Instead, local communities have identified specific solutions to their water shortages and calculated the associated costs of implementing those solutions. For the 16 regional planning groups in Texas, securing funding for water projects is a pivotal step to safeguarding that region’s future and livelihood.
This year, through SWIFT, the TWDB expects to fund nearly $800 million in water projects in the state water plan that also meet specific criteria. Each year there will be multiple rounds of funding to accommodate as many projects as possible, but the TWDB’s additional funding programs are also available to provide much-needed financial assistance.
For example, the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) can help finance the construction of water treatment facilities or distribution systems or the upgrading of existing facilities. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) can be used to build and upgrade wastewater recycling and reuse systems or for storm water pollution control. Both programs can be used to protect existing source water from potential pollution.
Since 1957, the DWSRF and CWSRF have provided more than $8 billion in low-interest loans and loan forgiveness—a type of grant—to cities, counties, water districts, river authorities, nonprofit water supply corporations, and other political subdivisions for water supply projects in Texas. Through the TWDB’s variety of cost-effective financial assistance, substantial amounts of savings have allowed for more economic benefits in communities all over Texas.
"The potential savings a community might gain simply by working with the TWDB on these water projects is unparalleled," said TWDB Board Member Kathleen Jackson. "We hope that communities thinking about investing in water projects will come talk to us first to ensure they are getting the best deal in Texas."
March 2, 2015, is the deadline to apply for the initial prioritization for 2016 funding from the DWSRF or CWSRF programs. Communities, however, may also submit applications at a later date for the 2016 funding. To learn more about the application process for all of the TWDB’s funding programs, please visit the financial assistance section of the (newly improved) TWDB website.