Austin (December 6, 2013) - Last month, when Texas voters approved an amendment to the state constitution creating a $2 billion fund for water projects, the first question on many stakeholders' minds was "How will these projects be prioritized?"
On December 5, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) approved the uniformed standards the regional water planning groups developed in accordance with House Bill 4 from the last legislative session.
These standards were developed and adopted by the regional water planning group committee, submitted to the TWDB before their due date of Dec. 1, and will be used to prioritize water projects at the regional level.
The standards can still be changed if necessary. TWDB considers them a living document that can adapt to changing circumstances and information.
"The voters approved historic Proposition 6 on Nov. 5. These standards represent the first major milestone following that approval and comprise a critical step in allowing us to implement the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT)," said TWDB Chairman Carlos Rubinstein. "I applaud the hard work and dedication of the planning groups."
Representatives from Texas' 16 regional planning groups began meeting in mid-September to develop the standards, which consist of a scoring system that considers feasibility, viability, sustainability and cost effectiveness.
The next step requires TWDB to establish a scoring system that includes the regional water planning groups' priorities. This system will then be used to prioritize those water projects applying for funding through the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) - the fund approved through November's election.
Final criteria will be determined through rulemaking, which will begin early next year and will be complete in early 2015. The rulemaking process will provide multiple opportunities for stakeholder and public involvement.
The TWDB is the state agency charged with collecting and disseminating water-related data, assisting with regional planning and preparing the State Water Plan for the development of the state’s water resources.
The TWDB administers cost-effective financial programs for the construction of water supply, wastewater treatment, flood control, and agricultural water conservation projects.