The Texas Legislature in 2019 greatly expanded the Texas Water Development Board’s (TWDB) role in financing flood mitigation and drainage projects across the state with the passage of Senate Bill 7, which was co-authored by Sen. Lois W. Kolkhorst (R-Brenham).
The legislature also authorized a one-time transfer of $1.4 billion from the state’s Economic Stabilization or “rainy day” Fund to the newly created Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) and the Texas Infrastructure Resiliency Fund (TIRF) to be administered by the TWDB. The FIF will provide grants and low-cost loans for drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects.
“Flooding and hurricanes have impacted the lives of millions of Texans. That’s why these funds are designed to make the implementation of drainage and flood projects more affordable for Texas communities and to meet immediate needs for funding without raising taxes or fees,” said Kolkhorst.
“The Texas Water Development Board is working with local communities and is accepting comments on the proposed rules for flood financial assistance and the flood intended use plan until Monday, Jan. 13,” she said. “These rules will govern the allocation of $793 million by establishing eligibility requirements, minimum construction standards, timelines, and prioritization criteria. Local governments are encouraged to submit their comments on these proposed rules and play a part in how these state funds are distributed.”
In addition to Senate Bill 7, the legislature provided the TWDB with funds to collect more flood-related data, advance its river and coastal modeling capabilities, and distribute critical flood information through an online dashboard with the passage of Senate Bill 8. Comments on the state flood plan are due to the TWDB on Feb. 3.