Texas Water Development Board: Migrating state revolving funds

As most of our readers know, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) administers the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs). What many of you may not know is exactly how these funds are used, how they are accessed, and why they are "revolving." Why can't they stay still so you can get on the funding cycle?...

Nov 19th, 2005

AUSTIN, TX, Nov. 16, 2005 -- The Texas Water Development Board offers the following news items recently posted to its website:

SuRFing the Wave
By Jeff Walker

As most of our readers know, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) administers the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs). What many of you may not know is exactly how these funds are used, how they are accessed, and why they are "revolving." Why can't they stay still so you can get on the funding cycle?

The funds are called revolving funds because the repayments of loans issued to finance water and wastewater infrastructure "revolve" back into the money pot to be re-loaned to the next applicant. These repayments are blended with annual grants from the federal government and bonds sold by the TWDB in the open market to allow the TWDB to offer below-market interest rates to borrowers and to perpetuate the programs. So, in essence, each participant contributes to successive applicants.

We are often asked what the distinction is between Drinking Water and Clean Water. Don't we all want clean water and safe drinking water? The programs were named by Congress when they authorized the legislation and yes, we do want all of our water to be clean and our drinking water safe. "Clean Water" relates to the collection and treatment of wastewater followed by its land application, beneficial reuse, or discharge to streams and water bodies. "Drinking Water" relates to the development, transmission and treatment of raw water prior to its storage and distribution to homes and businesses for consumption.

While they are two distinct programs and sources of funds, the SRF's operate very similarly and on parallel tracks for an entity's listing, ranking, and funding. The process starts with an entity (city, authority, water supply corporation, etc.) having a need for either water or wastewater infrastructure improvements. The entity works with their engineers to determine the extent of the needs and the estimated costs. The TWDB solicits the information for the Intended Use Plans (IUP) in late fall (October and November) by sending a letter to every eligible entity in the state asking for projects and associated cost estimates. An important distinction between the eligible entities is that Drinking Water is open to all public water suppliers while Clean Water is restricted to only political subdivisions of the state. The IUP process is a very important step because if a project is not on the IUP, the entity cannot receive funding from either SRF. The entity is not obligated in any way by merely submitting the project information for inclusion. Entities are generally given three months to respond to the IUP solicitation and the project information must be sealed by a professional engineer. TWDB staff will assist entities in completing the solicitation if requested.

After the deadline for project information submittal, the TWDB either evaluates the information internally, in the case of the Clean Water program, or submits it to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for ranking for the Drinking Water program. The development of the IUP's takes some time since the list of projects must be evaluated, ranked, and guided through a series of public hearings and considered by the TWDB board members. This processing of the IUP's occurs throughout the spring and summer. Loan application invitations to the entities are sent beginning in the fall.

Invitation letters have already been sent to all entities that are "in the money" for FY 2006 State Revolving Funds. Invited entities have a three-month deadline for submitting an application for funding.

If your entity has a project that they desire the option to fund using the SRF's, initiate action now to get on the FY 2007 IUP. The projected timelines for the FY 2007 SRF programs are as follows:

FY 2007 Drinking Water State Revolving Fund
• October 2005 - Drinking Water IUP Solicitation Letter mailed to every eligible Texas entity
• January 2006 - Drinking Water IUP DW-007, DW-008, DW-009, and DW-010 Forms received byTWDB from entities desiring the option to participate
• February 2006 - Copies of the Drinking Water DW-007 Form provided to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for ranking
• March 2006 - Draft Drinking Water IUP preparation and review/ranking
• May 2006 - Draft Drinking Water IUP sent to participating entities for 30-day comment period
• July 2006 - Drinking Water IUP Public Hearing (A 30-day comment period follows the public hearing.)
• August 2006 - Drinking Water IUP goes to TWDB Board for approval.
• September 2006 - Invitation letters to eligible entities for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund begin to be sent
• October 2006 - Pre-application meetings/commitments begin

FY 2007 Clean Water State Revolving Fund
• November 2005 - Clean Water IUP Solicitation Letter to be mailed to every eligible Texas entity
• February 2006 - Clean Water IUP SRF-006 and SRF-007 Forms received at TWDB from entities desiring the option to participate
• March 2006 - Copies provided to the TWDB ranking team for evaluation
• April 2006 - Draft Clean Water IUP preparation and review/ranking
• May 2006 - Draft Clean Water IUP sent to participating entities for review
• June 2006 - Clean Water IUP Public Hearing followed by 45-day comment period
• August 2006 - Clean Water IUP provided to TWDB Board for approval
• September 2006 - Invitation letters are sent to eligible entities for Clean Water State
Revolving Fund
• October 2006 - Pre-application meetings/commitments begin

More detailed information along with the necessary forms are available online at www.twdb.state.tx.us/publications/forms_manuals/PGM_forms_main.asp.
TWDB staff will be happy to help you complete the forms and determine eligibility. Contact Bruce Crawford at 512-463-8033 or by email at bruce.crawford@twdb.state.tx.us for more information.

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TWDB Education News
By Stacy Pandey

• Major Rivers distribution completed
The Major Rivers water education curriculum for fourth and fifth grade has been distributed to 53 sponsoring water management entities across Texas, who will distribute the program to schools in their areas. In total, 718 teacher kits have been distributed and 1,324 packages of replacement student materials have been distributed for teachers who already have the kit. Orders will be taken again next spring for the 2006-2007 school year, so if there is no water education program for schools in your area, consider supporting this excellent program. Teacher kits are $40 and a classroom set of student materials is $15. Contact Stacy Pandey at stacy.pandey@twdb.state.tx.us
or (512) 936-6090 for more information about the program and/or to be added to our mailing list.

• Hot off the Press: New TWDB coloring book
The TWDB has a brand new "Know Your Water" coloring book with a cute Texas theme. Billy the Bull, Amanda Armadillo, Sally Mander, and Grandpa Lizard guide children through fun facts about water in Texas, teach them the names of aquifers and rivers through word finds, give them information on how to conserve water at home, and apply what they have learned to create a story and draw a picture. There is a fun maze and a connect-the-dots page. This entertaining 16-page booklet targeted for children in kindergarten through third grade is available from the TWDB for 15 cents each and the PDF can be viewed and downloaded at www.twdb.state.tx.us/kids/index.htm. The coloring book is a simple, cost effective tool to help educate the next generation about water resources and water conservation! Stay tuned for the second part of this research project, a set of interactive online games/modules and a corresponding curriculum that are being developed to teach middle school students about topics such as interactions between surface water and groundwater, water planning, and water conservation. These activities should be available online early next year.

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Springs of Texas
By Ruben Ochoa

An inventory of springs in the 71 Texas counties not covered by former Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) staff geologist Gunnar Brune in TWDB Report 189, Major and Historical Springs of Texas (1975) or Springs of Texas -- Volume 1 (1981), is the subject of a contract recently negotiated between the TWDB and the Ecological Recovery Foundation headed by biologist Helen C. Besse.

Brune relied heavily on groundwater reports, records of spring discharges, low-flow studies of streams, and chemical analyses of spring waters published by the U.S. Geological Survey, the International Boundary and Water Commission, and the Texas Department of Water Resources to produce TWDB Report 189 and its more fully developed heir, Springs of Texas -- Volume I , which he self-published in 1981. Springs of Texas, Volume I, which contains various degrees of geological, hydrological, archeological, historical, and ecological information on approximately 2,000 springs in Texas, is considered by many as the seminal reference handbook of the state's spring systems.

"Springs serve as a sort of window through which we can peer into the aquifers from which they originate and by doing so we can learn more about the affects of drought, pumping and other human activity on the water quality and hydrologic flow of our groundwater resources," says Dr. Robert Mace, Director of TWDB's Groundwater Division. "This knowledge is useful for regional water planning and groundwater availability modeling. Regional water planning groups are required to identify springs that are important for water supply and natural resource protection. To accurately simulate aquifers, groundwater availability models need to include information on the location and flow of springs."

Recognition of the continuing scientific and planning value of the information compiled by Brune prompted the TWDB to seek out a professional entity to gather a similar set of scientific and field data on spring systems located in the 71 counties not fully covered by Brune in TWDB Report 189 or Springs of Texas -- Volume I. Most of the 71 counties are located in the Edwards Plateau region west of Austin and the northeast central region of Texas. After careful review of proposals submitted by entities interested in performing an inventory of springs in these counties, the TWDB approved a staff recommendation to negotiate a two-year contract with the Ecological Recovery Foundation. Federal funds channeled through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Texas Water Assessment Allocation Program will cover the $110,000 two-year contract amount.

Under the contract and over the next two years, the Ecological Recovery Foundation will be responsible for accomplishing three primary tasks. The first task involves utilization of U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps, various historical and archival documentation, and information gathered by interviewing local residents to identify the location of springs within the 71 counties. The second task involves a field survey of 400 springs selected by the TWDB from among the estimated 1,500 springs initially identified by the Foundation. The field surveys will focus on significant springs and involve verification of spring existence, global position system and photographic documentation, estimates of current flows, examination of water quality, and documentation of the springs' histories and ecological surroundings. The third task involves the production of a final report that will include a description of the overall project, an explanation of methodologies utilized to produce the data, and various digitized data and map sets formatted with technology compatible with and transferable to TWDB databases. The TWDB plans to input this information into its groundwater water-well database and make the information available to the general public via the Internet.

It is interesting to note that Helen Besse authored the revised and updated introduction for Texas A&M's republication in 2002 of Brune's Springs of Texas -- Volume I. "I grew up in South Texas during the 1950s drought," recalls Helen, "and that experience gave me a real appreciation of the value of water." Many years later Helen gained a real appreciation for springs while swimming in Barton Springs pool after a doctor's recommendation that swimming would help her recover from injuries she had suffered in a hot air balloon accident. "I was enamored by the place, the springs, the wildlife, the incredibly wonderful sense of community," says Helen. "It was during that time that I became aware of Brune's Springs of Texas book. I really enjoyed his work and that led to a rather tenacious effort on my part to make this excellent but really hard to find book more accessible."

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Hydrographic surveying program performs 100th lake survey
By Duane Thomas and Barney Austin

Just how much water is in that lake? The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has been answering this question for many years. In 1991, the Texas Legislature authorized the creation of the Hydrographic Survey Program. Over the next few months a boat was purchased and "state-of-the-art" Global Positioning System (GPS), acoustical depth sounders, and on-board computers were installed to collect high resolution depth and positional data. A methodology was developed for collecting, cleaning, and importing the field data into Geographical Information System (GIS) software to develop numerical models of reservoir bathymetry. Bathymetry is the underwater equivalent of topography. These models can be used to monitor change in a reservoir's capacity and surface area.

White River Lake was the first to be surveyed in March of 1993. In August of 2005, the Hydrographic Surveying Program celebrated its 100th lake survey with a volumetric survey of Jim Chapman Lake. In this period of time, the field crew has collected over 23,000 miles of data spanning over 1,000,000 surface acres of water, and accounting for approximately 20,000,000 acre-feet of reservoir capacity.

For future water supply planning purposes, it is also important to know how fast a lake is losing capacity due to sedimentation. This can be inferred by comparing old and new surveys. However, the survey team recently acquired a multi-frequency depth sounder that measures the actual volume and location of sediment in a lake or reservoir. Technological advances, portable GPS, and laptop computers have enabled the survey team to equip shallow-draft boats to survey areas of the lakes that were previously inaccessible.

The Hydrographic Survey Program operates through fees collected from lake owners or water rights holders who request these surveys. The TWDB website contains a calculator to determine the cost of a volumetric survey based on the number of surface acres, or for an additional fee a full sediment survey can be completed. Financial support for certain reservoirs may be available from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. For more information about the program, please refer to the following website: www.twdb.state.tx.us/assistance/lakesurveys/volumetricindex.asp or you may contact Dale Crockett at 512-936-0844 or by email to dale.crockett@twdb.state.tx.us.

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