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Water Planning in Texas: How'd We Get Here?

Rio Frio running through Garner State Park

After the drought of record that lasted almost a decade in the 1950’s, Texas and Texans got very serious about water planning. During the 1960's up until the passage of Senate Bill 1 in 1997, water planning was very top-down in approach. Planning was largely done at the state level and then passed along to folks at the local level. Over the years, there developed a push to have more regional and local input—and buy in—in the water planning process in Texas.

Senate Bill 1 in 1997 established the regional water planning process that we have today. The state has 16 water planning regions and each is responsible for developing a regional water plan every five years. We are currently winding up the third five-year plan and regional water planning groups will begin working on the next five-year plan in coming months.

Funding for the water plan has been a very different story. Although the bottom-up, regional planning process was implemented soon after passage of SB 1 in 1997, it wasn’t until passage of House Bill 4 in 2013 that water planning in Texas was actually funded. HB 4 allows for a one-time infusion of $2 billion dollars from the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund (the "Rainy Day Fund") to fund projects that have been included in the State Water Plan, which is comprised of the 16 regional plans. In November 2013, the voters of Texas approved the use of funds as set forth in HB 4.


To learn more about how you can be involved in ensuring a good water future for our state, visit our Water Captains page.

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