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TWDB Opens New Round of SWIFT Financing

The Texas Water Development Board has opened the application period for the next round of SWIFT financing. The application period started yesterday, December 1, 2015, and will remain open through February 5, 2016. The application webpage can be found here.

In the first round of SWIFT financing in 2015, the Board provided funds to just over $1 billion in water projects in Texas, with future commitments for an additional $2.9 billion. The geographic distribution of funds can be seen in the charts below. As is apparent, North Texas was the recipient of the largest share of 2015 funds, while the Houston area was the largest recipient of future commitments and overall funding. The two largest projects were:

2015 Funding v2

Future Funding v2

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Water Transfers and Sustainable Development

It is widely agreed that a growing population and economy, combined with current drought conditions and increasing understanding of long-term climate variability, create an urgent need to develop new water supplies in the US. This is especially true in Texas and California, two states where I focus much of my attention. One type of project that always seems to be misunderstood and maligned, however, is interbasin water transfers.

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Water Markets for Texas

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has published an article on potential impacts to the Texas economy from water shortages, aptly named Water Scarcity a Potential Drain on the Texas Economy. Texas is experiencing record dry conditions, which is likely to combine with increasing water demands from growing urban areas to create a potentially volatile situation for future water supplies.

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The State Water Implementation Fund for Texas

Effective September 1, 2013, the Texas Legislature adopted rules governing the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) pursuant to House Bill 4 (Ritter). Creation and funding of SWIFT requires constitutional amendment through Proposition 6, which will be submitted to Texas voters on November 5, 2013. If Proposition 6 passes, SWIFT would be managed by the new Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), which I described in an earlier post.

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The New Texas Water Development Board

In its 83rd Session, the Texas Legislature reorganized the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) via House Bill 4 (Ritter). The primary changes were to reduce the number of board members from six to three and to make those memberships into full-time positions. The law expressly prohibits any member of the new TWDB from having any previous experience on the board. The same is true for the new executive administrator, manifesting the Legislature’s desire for a restart of the agency.