Conservation Matters December 2014

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

Texas Water Development Board SWIFT application process now open

By Danielle Kalisek

Texas Water Development Board SWIFT application process now open

During the 2013 legislative session, the Texas Legislature passed a bill and Texas voters later approved a constitutional amendment, known as Proposition 6, allowing for the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT). The proposition enabled a one-time investment of $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to provide low-cost loans for water projects in Texas. The application process for the initial funding is now open and ends Feb. 3, 2015.

SWIFT provides financing for projects in the state water plan, and “will allow the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) to provide financial assistance to important water projects around the state that will provide additional water supplies to urban and rural citizens,” said TWDB Chairman Carlos Rubinstein in a news release.

SWIFT offers a variety of low-cost loan options to accommodate the diversity of projects in the state water plan. At least 20 percent of the projects to be funded have to support water conservation or reuse and at least 10 percent have to support projects serving rural communities and agriculture, according to the TWDB SWIFT website.

Any political subdivision of the state or a non-profit water supply corporation with a project included in the 2012 State Water Plan can apply for SWIFT funding. Political subdivisions include municipalities, counties, river authorities, special law districts, water improvement districts, water control and improvement districts, irrigation districts and groundwater conservation districts.

The SWIFT project priorities established by TWDB are that the projects serve a large population, assist diverse urban and rural populations, provide regionalization and meet a high percentage of water users’ needs, said Doug Shaw, TWDB's agriculture and rural Texas ombudsman, at a December press conference in College Station.

“A thousand people are coming to Texas daily, and none of them are bringing water,” said Kathleen Jackson, TWDB SWIFT program director and board member. She said TWDB is not just providing finances but is also available to help one-on-one with discussing challenges, creating relationships and talking about options and other resources.

Submitting an abridged application is the first step to receive financial assistance from SWIFT. Abridged applications will be solicited up to two times each year and will be used to prioritize projects for funding. Abridged applications are due by Feb. 3, 2015. Invitations to submit full applications will be extended to those projects within the limits of available funding.

In the first 10 years of funding, the TWDB anticipates approximately $800 million will be available each year for projects.

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