$2B to be distributed for Texas water projects - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

$2B to be distributed for Texas water projects

AUSTIN, TX (KCBD) -

A new effort to help communities across Texas maintain and create new water supplies took a big step forward Thursday.

Regulators approved the final rules for the State Water Implementation Fund For Texas (SWIFT).

Voters approved the fund last November. It utilizes $2 billion from the state's Rainy Day Fund to provide low cost loans for water projects.

Members of the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) have been traveling the state for the past year visiting with people about how to prioritize projects. Now, applications are being accepted and will be reviewed using the new rules approved Thursday.

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FULL RELEASE FROM TWDB:

AUSTIN - (November 6, 2014) - At a Board meeting held today in Austin, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) adopted the final rules for the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT). The application process for SWIFT funding is now officially open.

"Today is a historic day for the citizens of Texas and for the future of our state's water supplies," said TWDB Chairman Carlos Rubinstein. "SWIFT will allow the TWDB to provide financial assistance to important water projects around the state that will provide additional water supplies to urban and rural citizens alike. The projects will be diverse, from conserving and maintaining a current water supply, to innovative technology that taps into new sources of water. Each project funded by SWIFT will take us one step closer to being drought-resilient."

Texas voters approved the constitutional amendment that created SWIFT in November 2013. Introduced by the Texas Legislature in 2013, SWIFT enabled the one-time investment of $2 billion from the state's Rainy Day Fund for low-cost loans for water projects in Texas. 

For the past year, the Board has been traveling the state holding work sessions and meetings with interested stakeholders on how best to draft the rules for prioritizing projects for SWIFT funding.

"It is our hope that the rules adopted today reflect the diverse needs and interests of the people of Texas," said TWDB Board member Bech Bruun. "The Board realized early on there wasn't a one-step approach for developing these rules. That's why we have spent countless hours on the road meeting with interested stakeholders and hearing from the people of Texas. The final rules are not only a product of the TWDB, but also the numerous comments and suggestions from all over the state. We are pleased to be able to adopt rules developed through such a collaborative effort."  

Entities interested in applying for SWIFT will need to submit an abridged application to the TWDB by February 3, 2015. The abridged application will provide information the TWDB needs to complete prioritization of projects. The projects will then be ranked according to SWIFT prioritization rules approved today. Projects that receive priority for funding will need to submit a full application, which will include an environmental, engineering, financial, and legal review. For more details on how to apply, please visit the TWDB website. 

"Throughout the rule development process, the Board has endeavored to be transparent and accessible to the public," said TWDB Board member Kathleen Jackson. "As we move onto the application phase, we want to continue to be engaged with Texans. We also want to ensure that we are measuring the success of SWIFT and communicating that important information to our stakeholders. SWIFT is, and will continue to be, a valuable resource for the development and maintenance of water infrastructure in our state."

The TWDB is the state agency charged with collecting and disseminating water-related data, assisting with regional planning and preparing the state water plan for the development of the state's water resources. The TWDB administers cost-effective financial assistance programs for the construction of water supply, wastewater treatment, flood control, and agricultural water conservation projects.

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