The Texas State Water Bill (HB 4) has been signed into law authorizing $2 billion in spending on water related projects and could ultimately fund more than $25 billion.
HB 4 was signed into law in May 2013 by Governor Rick Perry in an effort to fund long-term water resources projects. The law creates a water infrastructure bank to enhance the financing capabilities of the Texas Water Development Board, and the $2 billion in initial capital was derived from the state’s Rainy Day Fund. As accounts are created, loan application processes drafted, and a prioritized list of projects is made, it is estimated the accounts could fund over $25 billion in projects over the next 50 years.
The $2 billion will initially be placed in an account called the State Water Implementation Fund of Texas (SWIFT). Over time, the revenues generated from interest charged on projects would be placed in another account, the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund of Texas (SWIRFT), which funds additional, interest bearing projects.
Formed under the provisions of the law, an Advisory Committee, which will represent multiple stakeholders in water usage, will have the capacity to provide low interest loans, issue loans with long-term repayment schedules, and allow the deferral of loan payments. However, the law does not allow these monies to be used for any form of grant. Additionally, HB 4 demands 20 percent of the projects are dedicated to water conservation and reuse. The protocols for the loan application process should be finalized by 2015.
So where is all this money going? The Texas Park and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Regional Water Planning Groups are working on prioritizing water projects by the feasibility, sustainability, viability and cost-effectiveness of each project. According to the Water for Texas 2012 State Water Plan, the water demands around the Dallas Metro Area are expected to increase by 96 percent over the next 20 years. Houston’s Metro Area will increase usage by 89 percent. With this in mind, it is likely projects servicing those areas of high growth will be approved first.
One thing is for sure: there will be several groups standing in line to get their piece of the pie. Many industries may not realize they are stakeholders in these decisions and have the potential for financial gain (e.g. sales of water rights), or the restriction of necessary supplies (e.g. water for fracking or refineries).
If you have any questions on the effects of the water bill, please give us a call. We can help keep you up-to-date with changing markets and the political environment.
Contact: Neil Boitnott at firstname.lastname@example.org or (903) 525-9838
About the author
- Liz is as an environmental specialist and Geographic Information System (GIS) analyst in the San Antonio office. She has over six years of experience in environmental compliance consulting and permitting with an emphasis on GIS and spatial analysis.
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