State of Iowa and State of Texas: Regional Water Planning

Texas Water Development Board 


The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB or Board) is a governmental entity in the state of Texas that coordinates water planning and water project financing, often with collaboration from other state agencies and entities.1 Currently, the Board, which was created in 1957, has a statutory sunset provision in 2023.2  The entity also has taxable bonding authority to raise revenue.3 In addition to bonding authority, TWDB can use state funds to hire and train staff.4  Six regional implementation teams coordinate TWDB’s activities at the community level.5  

Board Activities 

The TWDB partners with other Texas state entities, such as the Department of Agriculture and Division of Emergency Management, to coordinate funding allocations and water resource management throughout the state.6 This coordination is guided by memoranda of understanding between the TWDB and the relevant department. One partnership is with the Natural Resource Conservation Commission (NRCC) to administer the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund (DWSRF).7 TWDB can also partner with private organizations, such as private sector supporters.8 Another partnership between TWDB, the General Land Office, and the Division of Emergency Management resulted in the development of a Flood Information Clearinghouse to be a “one-stop shop” for information on flood mitigation funding opportunities for communities in Texas.9 

TWDB is the state’s primary entity for water planning and financing.10 One of the Board’s planning responsibilities is creating and approving the State’s Water Plan, which focuses on managing the state’s water supply and coordinates region-specific water plans.11 The state’s most recent plan is from 2022.12  

TWDB also designates Flood Planning Regions (FPR) inside the state.13 While TWDB has historically handled water supply planning, the entity’s mandate was expanded to include flood planning following Hurricane Harvey.14 As a result, TWDB is currently engaged in regional flood planning for the state.15 The Board is in the process of creating new regional flood plans that will inform the development of a first-ever statewide flood plan scheduled for completion in 2023 and 2024, respectively.16 The regional flood plans will be based on regional river basins.17 Regional flood planning groups will use overlapping layers of GIS and flood data to construct the regional flood plans.18 

Funding and Support Programs

The Board administers several water financing programs related to different aspects of water supply, water quality, and floodplain management. One of the most flexible of these programs is the Water Development Fund (Fund), a state-funded loan program that is not federally supported.19 The types of activities eligible for the fund include planning, designing, and constructing water supply projects.

The TWDB promotes flood resilience with the Texas Infrastructure Resiliency Fund, which has four accounts dedicated to supporting state and local match for federal funding opportunities, floodplain management, flood plan implementation, and Hurricane Harvey relief, respectively.20  TWDB also provides drainage and flood control project funding through the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF), which provides grants and no-interest revolving loans to political subdivisions.

To address water quality in the state, TWDB administers the Economically Distressed Areas Program (EDAP), which provides loan and grant funding to “economically distressed areas where water or sewer services do not exist or systems do not meet minimum state standards.”21 Projects served by EDAP must be located in areas where median household income is not greater than 75 percent of state median household income. Funding for EDAP comes from legislative appropriations and constitutional bonding authority. 

The Rural Water Assistance Fund (RWAF), available to small rural communities, provides low-cost financing for water and wastewater projects through tax-exempt equivalent interest rate loans.22 Funding for this program comes from the TWDB’s ability to sell taxable bonds.

In addition, some programs support the conservation and management of water supplies. Two programs — the Agricultural Water Conservation Loan Program (AWCL), Agricultural Water Conservation Grant Program (AWGL), and the Groundwater Conservation District Loan Program (GDLP) — promote those goals. The AWCL provides loans to eligible entities to fund conservation projects, including educational programs and conservation initiatives.23 AWGL allocates funding to political entities of the state to support agricultural water conservation in accordance with the state water plan. The AWGL also supports projects which exhibit water conservation best management practices.24 The GDLP supports initial start-up and operation costs associated with newly created water conservation districts.25 Legislatively created or newly confirmed district management authorities are eligible to apply, and grants cover such expenses as office equipment, space rental, insurance, and other creation expenses. 

The State Participation Program (SPP) is another financial support program coordinated through the TWDB through which the Board takes direct involvement in promoting eligible projects. The SPP allows TWDB to take on partial, temporary ownership of a regional project where the debt required for an optimal project is too much for the local sponsor to assume alone.26 Projects in the state water plan are also eligible for continuing financial assistance through the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT).27  SWIFT provides financial tools such as low-interest loans, deferred loans, and incremental repurchase for projects with state ownership interests (such as those over which TWDB acquired an interest through SPP).28 


Iowa Water Resources Coordinating Council and Watershed Planning Advisory Council 

While some aspects of water planning are required of Iowa agencies, like the comprehensive pollution prevention plan required of the Environmental Protection Commission, there are no provisions in the Iowa statutes or constitution that require a comprehensive statewide water or flood plan.29  

Nonetheless, Iowa has a statutorily created Water Resources Coordinating Council (WRCC) within the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship that includes members from Iowa University deans, officials from other state departments, and federal representation from EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and other federal officials or designees who oversee regional or state-focused policies affecting Iowa water.30 WRCC oversees the statewide regional watershed assessment program, which assesses all state watersheds over the course of five-year rotations. The WRCC guides interagency relationships with individual memoranda of understanding with different agencies. A WRCC-member agency is also designated by the Council to facilitate community subwatershed improvement plans, which are community-level management plans that follow regional assessments and prioritization of regional watersheds.

Much like TWDB, the WRCC also takes various coordinating actions such as reviewing voluntary management best practices, developing protocols for interagency regional watershed coordination, and contracts with partners and third parties. 

In 2009, the Iowa state legislature directed WRCC to publish policy recommendations that promote a watershed management approach which will “reduce the adverse impact of future flooding on this state’s residents, businesses, communities, and soil and water quality.”31 In response, WRCC released Recommendations and Funding Options for Mitigating Flood Risk in response to a legislative mandate. 

Iowa has also established a Watershed Planning Advisory Council (WPAC), which advises state agencies on improving water quality, creating incentives for voluntary conservation actions, and facilitating coordination.32 The 2012 state Nonpoint Source Management Plan named WRCC and WPAC as the central clearinghouse entities for tracking data and information related to the Plan’s pollution management activities.33 

Publication Date: May 18, 2022

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