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Texas Water Development Board announces prioritization of projects for SWIFT

For immediate release. Contact: Media Relations at 512-463-5129

AUSTIN – (May 6, 2015) – The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) today approved the first-ever project prioritization list for the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT). The Board considered the projects and determined there is the financial capacity to invite all 39 eligible applications. The projects are requesting $1.07 billion in financial assistance the first year and will total more than $4 billion in financial assistance over the next decade. Sponsors with projects on the list are now invited to officially apply for financial assistance.

Of the 39 prioritized applications, five are for rural projects, five for conservation and reuse, and two are for agricultural projects.

The projects invited to apply include transmission pipelines, canal linings, capacity expansions, seawater desalination, leak detection systems, water meter replacements, and reservoirs.

"The scope of projects indicates that Texas is poised to begin a new era in addressing the water needs of its growing population and ensuring the state's economic vitality," said TWDB Chairman Carlos Rubinstein. "The TWDB stands ready to provide financial assistance to Texas communities ready to get started on their state water plan projects."

Many of the applicants are requesting multi-year commitments because water projects can take several years to design, build, and implement. The TWDB made this funding option available to provide the sponsors and their customers with flexible financing options. An in-depth analysis determined it was feasible to provide multi-year commitments as a funding option and still protect the long-term viability of the SWIFT program.

"The overwhelming response to the first call for applications validates the action taken by the 83rd Legislature with the passage of House Bill 4 in 2013 and the subsequent statewide voter approval of Proposition 6," said Board member Bech Bruun.

SWIFT was established by the Texas Legislature and voters to fund projects in the state water plan. A one-time, $2 billion appropriation was transferred from the state's Rainy Day Fund to create SWIFT. Over the next 50 years, the $2 billion will be leveraged with revenue bonds to finance approximately $27 billion in water supply projects. The TWDB anticipates funding approximately $8 billion in projects during the first decade.

"Texas communities need low-cost financing options to help them get started on critical water supply projects," said Board member Kathleen Jackson. "SWIFT provides that incentive. It jump starts projects today that are important to meet the water needs of future generations."

Now that the Board has approved the prioritized list of applications, the TWDB will invite the project sponsors to submit detailed applications. The prioritization list was based on abbreviated applications. The detailed applications will be due to the TWDB on June 5, 2015. After that, applications will undergo the standard, thorough TWDB review process, and each application must be presented to and approved by the Board. The TWDB anticipates presenting the final recommendations for funding to the Board in late summer and closing loans in late 2015.

The TWDB is the state agency charged with collecting and disseminating water-related data, assisting with regional planning, and preparing the state water plan for the development of the state's water resources. The TWDB administers cost-effective financial assistance programs for the construction of water supply, wastewater treatment, flood control, and agricultural water conservation projects.