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2015-07-30

TWDB approves $3.9 billion in SWIFT financial assistance

Special to the Courier

Recently, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) approved approximately $3.9 billion in financial assistance from the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT). The inaugural round of SWIFT financing will be distributed to 21 applicants for approximately $1 billion in projects in the first year and approximately $3.9 billion total over the next decade.
"Being able to finance projects through SWIFT is a major step toward achieving the goal of securing Texas' long-term water supplies," said TWDB Chairman Bech Bruun. "The projects selected to receive SWIFT financing will help ensure that Texans have sustainable and reliable water sources for decades to come."
The applicants are requesting funding for 32 projects identified in the state water plan. The types of projects approved include transmission pipelines, canal linings, capacity expansions, seawater desalination, leak detection systems, water meter replacements, and reservoirs.
"The Board was pleased to see a wide range of projects represented in the SWIFT applications," said TWDB Board member Carlos Rubinstein. "One of those projects, Lake Ralph Hall, is the first reservoir permitted by the State of Texas since 1985 and an important water supply strategy for North Texas."
SWIFT was established by the Texas Legislature and voters in 2013 to fund projects in the state water plan. SWIFT was created through the transfer of a one-time, $2 billion appropriation from the state's Rainy Day Fund. The $2 billion will be leveraged with revenue bonds over the next 50 years to finance approximately $27 billion in water supply projects.
"We took the legislature and voters of Texas very seriously when they put their confidence in us to manage SWIFT," said TWDB Board member Kathleen Jackson. "We've traveled the state, engaged communities, and developed a new approach to fast-track the state water plan. We are beyond excited to approve the first round of SWIFT financing and see the large number of impactful projects moving forward to develop water for Texas."
Projects selected for SWIFT financial assistance ranged from $953,405,000 to the North Harris County Regional Water Authority (Harris County) for a water supply project to a approval of a $705,000 request from the City of Marfa (Presidio County) for a water well project. Projects included municipal, agricultural and intracoastal plans.
The TWDB anticipates closing loans for projects approved for SWIFT financing in fall 2015.