Texas Water Bank

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) administers the Texas Water Bank, which was established in 1993 to facilitate the transfer, sale, or lease of water and water rights throughout the state. A depositor holding a surface water right will enjoy protection from cancellation as specified in TAC Chapter §359.8 (a) of the Water Bank Rules.

Key Aspects of the Texas Water Bank

  • Use of the bank is optional, as water rights may be marketed outside of the bank.
  • In administering the bank, the TWDB may act to
    • serve as a negotiator;
    • provide a free registry and serve as an information resource;
    • promote conservation through deposits of conserved water;
    • purchase, sell, hold, and/or transfer water and water rights;
    • establish regional water banks;
    • prepare and publish a manual on structuring water transactions;
    • accept and hold donations of water rights in trust for environmental purposes;
    • enter into contracts to pay for feasibility studies or the preparation of plans and specifications relating to water conservation efforts or to estimate the amount of water to be saved through conservation efforts; and
    • otherwise facilitate water transactions.
  • Water rights or contractual rights to use water, which may include surface water, groundwater, or water from any source, may be deposited in the bank.
  • All water rights or a portion of a water right may be deposited in the bank.
  • Surface water rights placed in the bank are protected from cancellation while on deposit in the bank for an initial 10-year period and for an ensuing 10 years following the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's approval relating to water rights transferred while on deposit in the bank. However, a water right is exempt from cancellation through this provision only once, even if it has been transferred or redeposited.
  • The TWDB may charge as much as 1 percent of the value of the water or water right received into or transferred from the water bank to cover its administrative expenses.
  • The TWDB may implement water conservation measures in irrigation districts and deposit the resulting water saved into the Texas Water Bank. The water savings deposited may be transferred to municipalities, industries, and other agricultural users. The cost of implementing the conservation measures may be repaid by the sale of conserved water.

Who owns the water rights in the bank?
Unless the TWDB specifically purchases a right or receives it as a donation, all water rights in the bank are owned by the original depositors.
What kind of guarantee does the TWDB’s participation in the bank provide the depositor or buyer of water or water rights?
The TWDB cannot guarantee the presence of water in the state’s watersheds or aquifers. Information on water use for a specific surface water right, however, should be available from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
What is the TWDB’s role in amending a water right to reflect the details of a transfer?
None. The buyer and depositor are required to follow existing procedures for permit amendment with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Can the TWDB establish regional water banks?
Yes. Banks may be added or removed as necessary. The banks may be reviewed periodically so their operational success can be evaluated.
How have the TWDB, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department coordinated their efforts?
The TWDB coordinated the development of the current rules for operating the Texas Water Bank and Texas Water Trust with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
How will the bank get buyers and sellers together?
The TWDB has established a registry of depositors, sellers, and potential buyers and attempts to match needs with availability.
Is the bank ready to receive water saved by irrigation districts for transfer to other water users?
Yes. To fully implement the agricultural water conservation savings program, the TWDB requires seed money. Local districts are seeking federal funding for the needed seed money.
Where may I get more information?
For additional information, deposit forms, registry information, or other marketing information, contact Ron Ellis (ron.ellis@twdb.texas.gov), at (512) 463-4146.

Water Bank Deposits for Sale or Lease

Current Water Bank Deposits

If interested in depositing a water right for sale or lease, listed below are the associated Water Bank Forms:

Water Bank Registry

As another option, instead of depositing in the Water Bank, you may consider simply posting your water right, at no cost, on the appropriate 'Registry' which can be viewed at our website. A water right listed in the registry does not have protection from cancellation under the Water Bank Rules.

Additional Resources

For more information see A Texan's Guide to Water and Water Marketing for background information on:

  • The History of Water Rights in Texas
  • Types of Surface Water Rights
  • Various Forms of Water and Water Right Transfers
  • Factors to Consider in the Sale or Purchase of Water and Water Rights
  • Factors that Influence the Price or Marketability of Water and Water Rights
  • The Texas Water Bank and Texas Water Trust

For additional information on surface water availability, water rights and permitting see the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) web page on Surface Water Availability Modeling (WAM) related to Surface Water Rights and Permitting.

Links and Contacts