Proposition 6 would help Texas secure its economic future

Proposition 6If future water demands are not met, Texas could lose more than one million jobs and $100 billion in annual income in the next 50 years.

According to the 2012 State Water Plan, our population is expected to almost double by 2060 and result in a 10 percent decrease in existing water supplies. Unless the state takes action to meet that massive increase in demand, we’ll face devastating water shortages.

It’s clear that our state’s economy depends on creating new water sources, but water supply projects are expensive and can take years of planning. It’s also difficult for cities and water authorities to fund these large projects.

In the 2012 plan, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) recommended 562 specific water supply projects to be completed in the next several decades at a cost of $53 billion. The board expects municipal and public water providers will need $27 billion in state financial assistance.

What’s Proposition 6?

On Nov. 5, Texas voters will decide the fate of Proposition 6, which would create the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) to make loans for these desperately needed infrastructure projects. 

VoteIf the proposition is approved, $2 billion would be transferred from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to create the SWIFT, which would be managed by the TWDB. The Rainy Day Fund would not pay for water projects, and the SWIFT would enable the board to sell bonds. The resulting revenue would be loaned to municipal and public water providers for infrastructure projects.

It’s also important to note that Proposition 6 would not generate more state spending. It simply creates the equivalent of a bank to make loans for water projects. The revenue would be called the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas (SWIRFT) and would provide:

  • Lower interest rates.
  • Longer repayment terms.
  • Incremental repayment terms.
  • Deferred repayments.

The state board would be required to target 10 percent of the projects funded to support rural areas, including agricultural water conservation, and 20 percent of projects funded to support water conservation or re-use, including agricultural irrigation projects.

To be eligible for financial assistance through the SWIFT, an applicant would have to submit and implement a water conservation plan and provide financing information, including a water infrastructure financing survey.

The TWDB would also be required to establish a prioritization system that would consider a project’s decade of need, feasibility, viability, sustainability and cost effectiveness. Highest consideration would be given to projects that meet at least one these criteria:

  • Serves a large population.
  • Provides assistance to a diverse urban and rural population.
  • Provides regionalization.
  • Meets a high percentage of the water supply needs of customers served.

Although our local water demands will continue to rise, we have a solid plan in place, which was outlined in a previous blog

What do you think about Proposition 6?

PODCAST: David Coleman discusses Proposition 6
(click the down arrow to download audio)

David Coleman