Economically Distressed Areas Program

In June, for the first time since 2018, the Texas Water Development Board committed financial assistance through the Economically Distressed Areas Program for water and wastewater improvements. More than $86 million in financing and grant funding was approved for projects across the state. Funding for EDAP is dependent upon legislative appropriations, through which the TWDB received $100 million for the 2022‚Äď2023 biennium. Seven entities received commitments for a total of eight projects on June 6, and the agency anticipates committing the remaining funds over the next few months. Since EDAP was established in 1989 by the 71st Texas Legislature, the TWDB has committed more than $900 million in grants and loans through the program.¬†

TWDB 88th Legislative Session Overview

The Texas Water Development board released an overview of the bills that prioritized water for Texas during the 88th Legislative Session. Highlights can be found below:

  • SB 30 provided nearly $625 million in additional project funding to FIF. Additionally, HB 1 provided new staff positions and nearly $19.5 million to support flood-related programs. TWDB will receive $125 million for match funding to leverage an estimated $757 million in federal funds for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund¬†and the¬†Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan programs.
  • HB 2759 requires the TWDB to monitor hydrometeorological conditions and also establishes a TexMesonet Advisory Committee to advise and make recommendations related to the network.
  • Texas lawmakers approved nearly $5 million to the agency and added staff to provide technical assistance to rural entities. The TWDB was given additional authority to provide up to $1.5 million per year in agricultural water conservation loans and grants.
  • SB 469 impacts eligibility for the Rural Water Assistance Fund and¬†SWIFT¬†target goals,¬†while also informing the agency‚Äôs definition of ‚Äúrural‚ÄĚ for other purposes, such as in the State Revolving Funds, SWIFT subsidy levels, and performance measure reporting.
  • HB 3582 clarifies the definition of a rural political subdivision for the FIF program, allowing rural areas within urban-adjacent counties to be eligible for FIF grant funds.
  • HB 1565,¬† TWDB’s Sunset Bill, passed. One statutory¬†change granted the TWDB the statutory authority to use a risk-based approach to the review of projects seeking financial assistance.
  • TWDB received more than $1.8 million and new staff positions to support the enhancement and modernization of TWDB data.
  • TWDB received nearly $16 million and new staff positions to support the agency’s project management and risk mitigation efforts.
  • TWDB received more than $5.2 million to support sound planning for Texas’ water future, including funding for regional water planning grants, and rural and other outreach funds.

Texas Water Fund

The 88th Legislative Session generated several bills focused on addressing water supply needs and flood mitigation efforts in Texas. SB 28 and SJR 75 passed the 88(R) Session and created the Texas Water Fund. TWDB released a list of FAQs to answer questions about the program. Some questions and answers of note are as follows:

Q: Where will the money for the Texas Water Fund come from and how will it be managed?

A: Contingent upon voter approval of the constitutional amendment, the legislature has authorized a one-time, $1 billion appropriation of general revenue to the Texas Water Fund. Creating the fund outside the general revenue fund ensures that money in the Texas Water Fund will be dedicated for the same purpose in future state budget cycles.

Money in the Texas Water Fund will be held and invested by the Texas Treasury Safekeeping Trust Company, similar to how the SWIFT is currently managed.

Q: How would the program funds be disbursed?

A: Should the Texas Water Fund be created by the constitutional amendment, the TWDB will prepare rules, and in some cases an Intended Use Plan (IUP), for each financial assistance program that is eligible to receive funds; these will outline the intended method for allocating funds for that program. Communities and other eligible entities would apply for financial assistance, and the TWDB would evaluate projects according to specific application requirements. Funds would be disbursed for projects that meet all requirements, rank within the amount of funds available, and receive a formal commitment from the TWDB’s governing Board.

Q: When will funding be available?

A: If Texas voters approve the constitutional amendment establishing the Texas Water Fund, the TWDB will begin implementation and will assess timelines for the various options during the rulemaking and policy decision process. In the meantime, entities may be eligible for financial assistance3 for water projects through other TWDB, state, or federal financial assistance programs. Please contact us for more details.

Q: How can I get involved in implementing the Texas Water Fund?

A: The TWDB will begin seeking early public input on implementing the Texas Water Fund legislation beginning this fall. Subscribe to ‚ÄúGeneral Information‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúFinancial Assistance‚ÄĚ email lists to receive the latest information on how you can participate.