On August 31 The Soil and Water Conservation Board presented their Legislative Appropriations Request to the LBB. The TSSWCB’s LAR can be found here. An archive of this hearing can be found here.


This report is intended to give you an overview and highlight of the discussions on the various topics taken up. It is not a verbatim transcript of the discussions but is based upon what was audible or understandable to the observer and the desire to get details out as quickly as possible with few errors or omissions.


Rex Isom, Executive Director of the Soil and Water Conservation Board

  • Sunset Commission just finished review of this agency and staff is working to have all recommendations done by this calendar year
  • July 28 state board approved 2425 legislative appropriations request
  • Requested $78m in baseline and $65m in six exceptional requests
  • Methods of financing are GR and federal funds
  • Have a history of being conservative with programs and will continue in the future


Kenny Zajicek, COO Soil and Water Conservation Board

  • $78m request in LAR is $47m GR and $31m expected federal activity
  • Asking for UB authority within the biennium for the carrizo cane strategy, statewide management plan strategy, water quality management plan, and flood control strategies
  • Are economic, climate and other variables that effect those programs throughout the year


John Foster, Programs Officer Soil and Water Conservation Board

  • Exceptional items includes one non-funding request to increase the agency’s FTEs by 1.4 to round out agency staffing at 75 FTEs
  • 6 exceptional items total $65,623,288; will overview in priority order
  • Request additional funding to enable local soil and water conservation districts to operate and function
  • Request additional funding for flood control, dam maintenance, and construction; current state funding level not sufficient to support ongoing projects and to address backlog; totals $17m and 2 FTEs
    • Aim for program to total $40m annually; request increase federal authority by $9.7m
  • Carrizo Cane Eradication Program baseline was previously increased by $2m due to border security exception; request additional $160,000 and 2 FTEs to support sustained level
  • Request an increase of $2,140,000 Water Quality Management Plan Program to keep up with increasing material and labor costs
  • On-the-Ground Conservation Program was created last session to seek funding through federal agency grant programs and other sources; no state funding was requested/granted
    • Is often a matching element to these federal funds; a baseline budget would help
    • Funds will also help administer smooth closeout of the feral swine and feral hog abatement trap loan program
    • $60k for 1 FTE and $600k for state grants
  • Ask for an additional $385,500 and 4 FTEs for field representatives to reduce coverage areas
  • Daniel Knapp, LBB – How would reduced coverage areas help the agency?
    • Isom – Would provide the state to be active at each meeting and help carry state programs out in an efficient manner
  • Jason Briggs, Governor’s Office ­- Asks about exceptional item 1 salary increases
    • Currently have mostly part-time critical district employees who administer the program; overtime are not staying competitive and cannot retain employees
  • Jeb Bell, LBB – Flood control and dam maintenance; how much of the requested amount dealing with backlog projects?
    • Steve Bednarz, TSSWCB – About 160 dams need repair totals $100m; 500 high hazard that need to be upgraded totals about $2b
    • Isom – Backlog is a huge number and only grows