Texas’ population is growing and in not too many years, it could outstrip our supply of that precious resource – water. To help stave off shortages, practicing conservation is important, of course, but Texas also will need expanded infrastructure such as reservoirs and pipelines to meet increasing water and wastewater needs.

Texans soon will have a chance to help ensure their local governments and other water service providers can raise the money to build these needed projects. Among the issues up for vote in the Nov. 8 statewide election is a proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution that would allow the state to make additional funding available for such projects.

Proposition 2 would let the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) increase to $6 billion the amount it is allowed to issue in bonds to fund loans to Texas political subdivisions for water, wastewater and flood control projects. The TWDB was created in 1957 in response to the drought of record earlier that decade. The state authorizes the agency to issue bonds to support financial assistance programs for the planning, design, and construction of water supply, wastewater treatment, storm water and nonpoint source pollution control, flood control and agricultural water conservation projects.

Previously, the legislature and voters approved constitutional amendments allowing the TWDB to issue up to $4.23 billion in bonds. Of that, the agency has issued $3.29 billion, including more than $1 billion in the last three years. Voter approval of this expansion is needed for TWDB to continue to fund such local and regional projects.

Organizations can use these TWDB loans to pay for essential facility repairs and expansions including everything from water wells and towers to pipelines. Because of the costs of such projects, many organizations could not afford to build them without loans. The state’s strong credit rating ensures these groups could borrow at lower interest rates. The program is especially helpful to organizations that cannot obtain funds from traditional markets.

The TWDB describes the loan program as being “self-supporting”; meaning the loans would be repaid by the groups applying for and receiving the funds, not by general revenue from the state at large.

Another benefit of expanding the TWDB’s ability to obtain bonds is the state can use such funds to obtain federal matching grants to offer additional low interest loans.

With the Texas population expected to double between 2000 and 2060, governments and agencies must act soon to ensure the necessary water supplies and infrastructure to meet burgeoning needs are available then they are needed. For more information about Proposition 2 as well as the 2012 State Water Plan, you can visit the TWDB website at www.twdb.state.tx.us