Aug 02, 2016

Partnering Agreement Improves Large Texas Water Supply Project Coordination

Agreement assists applicants with guidelines, data methodology

Texas, water supply, applicants, Clean Water Act, permits

Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Southwestern Div., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) met to sign a partnering agreement that will improve interagency coordination related to large water supply projects in Texas. 

The agreement will assist applicants for these types of projects by providing guidelines and methods for producing some of the data required as part of the permit evaluation process under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, according to Brig. Gen. David C. Hill, USACE Southwestern Div. commander.

“The State Water Plan identifies the need for many additional water supplies in the future, and many of the proposed projects will require prior authorization under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. We agreed to form an interagency work group in 2015 with the goal of identifying ways to improve the permit review process for these projects. This agreement will help us assist the state of Texas in its efforts to plan for the future water needs of Texans,” Hill said.

The three agencies entered into a dialogue in 2015 focused on improving interagency coordination related to large water supply projects in Texas. Generally, large or major water supply projects are those projects where predictable impacts are significant enough to warrant the development of an Environmental Impact Statement, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

“Water plays a big role in our local communities and managing water is a growing concern across the U.S., especially in drought-prone areas like Texas,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “When reservoir water levels get lower and groundwater tables drop, water supplies, public health and the environment are put at serious risk. EPA is pleased to be part of a partnership to help Texans prepare for future challenges regarding water supply and the efficient use of this precious resource.”

Although TWDB is not a regulatory agency, it will participate with USACE and EPA by sharing its expertise in Texas water planning. TWDB will add its institutional knowledge of the Texas water planning process, which will assist in identifying efficiencies in the permit review process.

“We appreciate the opportunity to share our knowledge about the state water planning process and, in particular, the information from the 2017 State Water Plan," said Jeff Walker, TWDB executive administrator. "As a resource to this cooperative effort, we are participating in a core mission of our agency—planning for the state's water supplies.”

Following signing of the agreement, the agencies will work with existing staffing and budget to complete specific action items established by the partnering agreement.