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Bass Fishing on Lake Sam RayburnWhy is regional water planning needed?

In June 1997, Governor George W. Bush signed into law Senate Bill 1, a comprehensive water legislation enacted by the 75th Texas Legislature.

This comprehensive water legislation was an outgrowth of increased awareness of the vulnerability of Texas to drought and to the limits of existing water supplies to meet increasing demands as population grows.

The state's population is expected to increase from its current level of about 29 million to more than 51 million people by the year 2070.

With passage of SB 1, the Legislature put in place a "bottom up" water planning process designed to ensure that the water needs of all Texans are met as Texas enters the 21st century.

SB 1 allows individuals representing twelve interest groups to serve as members of Regional Water Planning Groups (RWPG) to prepare regional water plans for their respective areas. These plans will map out how to conserve water supplies, meet future water supply needs and respond to future droughts in the planning areas.

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) must approve and incorporate the regional water plans into a comprehensive state water plan. The water plans will be updated every five years.

Who is preparing regional water plans?

Each Regional Water Planning Group is responsible for preparing and adopting a regional water plan for its area. Each Group hires consultants to assist with developing the engineering, socioeconomic, hydrological, environmental, legal and institutional components of the regional water plans.

Each Group must provide for public input in the planning process, hold public meetings and furnish a draft report of the plan for public review and comment. Each regional water plan addresses the needs of all
water users and suppliers, except certain political subdivisions that decide not to participate.

What are the steps in preparing a regional water plan?

The planning process begins with the collection and analyses of many types of information related to water demands and supplies.  RWPG members are responsible for deciding how future water needs in
their respective region may be met. Each regional water plan will include information about water supplies and demand, water quality problems affecting water supply, and social and economic characteristics of the region.

The plan also will identify water supply threats to agriculture and natural resources. Information concerning current preparations for drought and the status of other water plans in the region will be

The following tasks are common to each regional water plan:

  • Determine water demands
  • Determine water supplies available for use during drought of record
  • Determine where and when there is a surplus of supply or a need for
    additional supplies
  • Determine social and economic impact of not meeting needs
  • Develop plans that contain specific strategies to meet future
    near-term needs (less than 30 years), options to meet long-term future
    needs (30-50 years) , and identified needs with no feasible solutions
  • Identify ecologically unique streams and rivers
  • Identify unique sites for reservoir construction
  • Coordinate with neighboring regions concerning mutual interests and
    shared resources
  • Propose regulatory, administrative or legislative recommendations to
    improve water resource management in the state.

What don't regional water plans do?

  • Regional water plans do not change existing water law. Legislative
    action is needed for such changes.
  • Regional water plans do not affect existing water rights or
  • Regional water plans do not force water management strategies on an
    entity. If a proposed water management strategy is objectionable to the
    political subdivision supplying or receiving water supplies, then the
    strategy will not be included in the plan as a strategy for meeting the
    need of the objecting political subdivision. The entity must specify
    its reasons for objecting to a proposed water management strategy, and
    the strategy may still be applied to meet other needs.

How can I participate in the regional water planning efforts?

To participate in regional water planning efforts, you may attend any of the RWPG meetings or contact regional group members or the TWDB to voice your concerns or to obtain additional information. Also, you may visit the TWDB web site at www.twdb.state.tx.us to learn more about planning activities.