The 1997 Texas Legislature established a state water planning process that assesses conditions in each of 16 regions, identifies solutions to water shortages and estimates their cost. The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) synthesizes these plans into a single state plan that estimates the state’s water needs over a 50-year horizon. (Exhibit 4)
Texas Water Planning Regions
Source: Texas Water Development Board.
New State Water Funding
In November 2011, Texas voters approved Proposition 2, which authorizes TWDB to issue up to $6 billion in general obligation bonds. The proceeds will be used to make loans to Texas local governments for water, wastewater and flood control projects.9
Proposition 2 authorizes the issuance of no more than $6 billion of general obligation bonds at any time. This provision was called “evergreen,” since it will allow TWDB to continually issue bonds for water projects so long as the amount of outstanding bonds remains below the $6 billion cap. It is likely that TWDB ultimately will issue much more than $6 billion in bonds in the coming years.10
The 2012 Plan
TDWB released a draft version of its 2012 state water plan in September 2011; it became final in January 2012. According to the final plan:
- Texas’ water demand should rise by Exhibit 5). (An acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover an acre of land to a depth of one foot, or nearly 326,000 gallons.)
- Texas’ rapidly growing urban areas will lead water consumption, with the largest anticipated increases in demand for municipal water systems, manufacturing plants and power generators.
- TWDB expects in its share of total demand.
- Texas’ groundwater supplies are expected to fall by 30 percent between 2010 and 2060, from 8 million acre-feet to 5.7 million acre-feet.12
- TWDB expects additional reservoirs and improved water management techniques to boost today’s 9 million acre-feet in 2060.13
supplies are expected
to FALL by
2010 and 2060.
To ensure adequate water supplies during drought years, the State Water Plan recommends 562 water supply projects as well as conservation measures, water reuse and other efforts.
TWDB estimates its strategies would add 9 million acre-feet to Texas’ water supplies by 2060, at a total cost of $27 billion in state financial assistance.14
Texas Water Demands By Category, 2010-2060
(Amounts in Acre-Feet per Year)
Totals may not add due to rounding.
Sources: Texas Water Development Board and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
The Cost of Doing Nothing
The 2012 State Water Plan also estimates the losses the state would incur in another multi-year “drought of record,” such as the 1950s drought.
- According to TWDB, Texas businesses and workers could lose nearly $12 billion in income in 2010 and nearly $116 billion by 2060.
- State and local business tax losses could amount to $1.1 billion in 2010 and $9.8 billion in 2060.
- Jobs losses could reach 115,000 in 2010 and 1.1 million in 2060.
- And due to diminished employment prospects, the state’s projected population could fall by about 1.4 million people by 2060, with 403,000 fewer students in Texas schools.11