Texas Water Development Board seeks public feedback on flood legislation

Following the passage of Senate Bills 7, 8 and 500, the Texas Legislature expanded the Texas Water Development Board's role in flood planning and financing. The TWDB is now in charge of administering a new statewide flood mitigation plan by Sept. 1, 2024, TWDB board member Kathleen Jackson said at an Aug. 9 flood stakeholder workshop.

"We're very honored that the Texas Legislature gave us this next task to put together the first-ever state flood plan," Jackson said during the workshop.

The three Senate bills are all related to flood mitigation. SB 6 establishes disaster response and recovery guides on flooding for local officials by 2020; SB 7 establishes two separate flood funding accounts to provide for SB 6 and SB 8; SB 8 requires the state to implement the statewide flood mitigation plan that the TWDB is responsible for; and SB 500 appropriates funds for Hurricane Harvey repairs, recovery and disaster prevention projects, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.

The state also authorized a one-time transfer of $793 million from the state's Economic Stabilization Fund—or Rainy Day Fund—to create a new flood funding program for the TWDB to administer as well, in which the funds will be available in 2020. This program is designed to make implementing drainage and flood projects more affordable for Texas communities and to meet immediate funding needs, according to TWDB information.

"It's very important that we get the funding that the Legislature has provided out the door quickly and that we do impactful flood projects so that our communities don't have to worry about water supply or flood because we've thought ahead," Jackson said during the workshop.

As part of the process of creating a statewide flood mitigation plan, the TWDB will also form flood planning groups across the state with members from various entities and job descriptions, including counties, municipalities, river authorities, water districts, small businesses, environmental groups and other entities, said Kathleen Ligon, the senior adviser to the TWDB executive administrator, during the workshop.

The formal rule-making process for these new initiatives and implementation of flood planning groups will start this fall, Ligon said.

"We've got to do things differently than what we've done in the past," Jackson said during the workshop. "We can't wait for a flood to occur; we've got to do what Gov. [Greg] Abbott called in his 'Eye of the Storm' report, and that is future-proof our state."

The TWDB is also seeking public feedback on how, where and why the funds should be spent, which is why the entity is in the process of its 15 workshops regarding flood mitigation—but board members encourage and want written comments as well.

All written comments should be submitted by Aug. 30 to rulescomments@twdb.texas.gov. A list of topics and questions to answer for the written comments can be found on the TWDB's website or in the document below.

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