During the 86th Texas Legislature’s 2019 session, our elected officials passed several pieces of important flood-related legislation, notably Senate Bills (SB) 7 and 8. These bills work hand-in-hand to allocate appropriate funding and technical support for flood mitigation and planning, both locally and for the state in its entirety. These bills also greatly expanded the tole of the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB).
SB7 acts as the framework for how the newly established Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) will be used. In November 2019, Texas voters approved Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that created the FIF, to which the legislature made a one-time transfer of $793 million from the Economic Stabilization (i.e., rainy day) fund. This money will be used to provide grants and low-interest loans to implement recommended flood control and mitigation projects; the application process and prioritization will be administered by TWDB. The initial allocation will be fully committed by fall 2020.
Meanwhile, SB8 outlines a new state flood-planning program similar in structure to the existing state water-supply planning program run by TWDB. TWDB will establish state and regional flood-planning processes with flood-planning regions based on river basins. Per the Texas Water Code, the first regional flood plans will be due in 2023, and the first state flood plan will be due to the legislature no later than September 1, 2024.
SB7 and SB8 were passed with the same goal in mind: to make flood control and planning easier, more efficient, and more affordable for Texas communities.