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Water Loan “Wets” Appetite for Future Growth

Editorial by Dade Phelan

 

On July 25 Orange County’s economic development future took another important step forward with the Texas Water Development Board’s approval of a $75 million loan to the Sabine River Authority of Texas. The reliability of water from Toledo Bend has been secured for generations to come.

 

This loan was ultimately made possible through Proposition 6, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2013. A $2 billion transfer was then made from the Economic Stabilization Fund (Rainy Day Fund) to the State Water Infrastructure Fund for Texas (SWIFT). This constitutional amendment finally gave the state the ability to finance numerous projects in the State Water Plan.

 

An important part of the SWIFT is the Advisory Committee. It is an honor to be one of three house members and the only one east of Interstate 35 tasked with serving on this oversight panel. The purpose of the committee is to review the overall operation, function and structure of the state water fund. As part of our assessment we are to submit recommendations to the Texas Water Development Board regarding the use of money in the fund, the prioritization of projects submitted for assistance, the types of projects that qualify for conservation and other goals described in House Bill 4 from the 83rd Legislature. The overall goal of the SWIFT is to provide $27 billion in state water plan projects over the next 50 years.

 

The loan awarded to the Sabine River Authority (SRA) will finance one of the largest conservation projects to date and the first SWIFT loan for any entity in East Texas. The investment will allow SRA to relocate its pump station and make essential changes within the river to conserve millions of gallons of water each year. By moving the pump upriver, less water will be released from Toledo Bend during periods of drought and reduced river flows thus ensuring stable lake levels and a reliable water supply for municipal, agriculture and industrial users throughout the basin.

 

When any large-scale industrial facility considers expansion or a new project, an abundant and reliable water supply is always at the top of the requirement list. Recent plant and refinery growth has centered on areas where water is of high quality and dependable. This conservation project adds another reason to choose Orange County and the Sabine River Basin as the next site for major industrial development.

 

It was a privilege to support the project and as a member of the advisory committee I understand how competitive the application process is. I congratulate the Sabine River Authority for gaining approval and appreciate the Texas Water Development Board’s favorable consideration.

 

It is an honor to serve the citizens of Southeast Texas. If I may ever be of assistance, please contact me at dade.phelan@house.state.tx.us, 512.463.0706 or 409.745.2777.

 

May God bless you all and the great state of Texas,

 

Dade Phelan is Texas House Member Representative for District 21