Water Supply Planning in Texas
Why do we plan?
Ensuring adequate and affordable water supplies for all Texans to withstand future droughts requires both advance planning and implementation prior to the onset of drought. The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is the state's lead water planning and infrastructure financing agency and is statutorily responsible for administering the regional water planning process and preparing and adopting the state water plan every five years. Each new state water plan, which considers a 50-year horizon, must reflect and respond to changes in population, water supplies, technological improvements, economic shifts, project viability, and state policy.
How do we plan?
Since 1997, water planning in Texas has been based on local involvement from 16 regional water planning areas. During each five-year planning cycle, regional water planning groups, supported by the TWDB, evaluate population projections, water demand projections, and existing water supplies. Each planning group then identifies potential water shortages under drought of record conditions (water needs), recommends water management strategies (with cost estimates) to address those potential shortages, and determines the socioeconomic impacts of not addressing the identified water needs.
Key to the development of the regional and state water plans is the TWDB's annual Water Use Survey which gathers data from entities using groundwater, surface water, or reclaimed water supplies for municipal, industrial, power generation or mining purposes. Data collected through this annual effort support the estimation of current water use in the state and the projection of future use for the state water plan. Operating in conjunction with the annual survey is the Texas Water Service Boundary Viewer, an online mapping application to house the active water service boundaries for all retail water suppliers to support more accurate estimates of per capita water use.
The state water plan is supported by an interactive website that is part of the TWDB's approved and adopted plan. The interactive plan allows water users to take an up-close look at data thematically and at discrete levels not found in the electronic and bound versions of the plan. The TWDB administers the state water planning database that facilitates the interactive state water plan and is directly populated by the planning groups as they produce their regional water plans. Some of the planning data, such as water demand projections and modeled available groundwater volumes, are developed and entered directly by the TWDB.
In addition to the state water plan development, the Water Supply Planning Division also administers the Texas Water Bank and Trust. This program facilitates the marketing and transfer of water and water rights in the State.