From the editor: Allowing TWDB to issue more water development project bonds

Published 8:32 pm Saturday, October 5, 2019

Dawn Burleigh, Editor

In taking a look at Proposition 2 on the Nov. 5, 2019 ballot, Water Code ch. 17, subch. K establishes the Economically Distressed Areas Program (EDAP) governed by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB).

EDAP provides financial assistance for projects to develop water and wastewater services in economically distressed areas where these services or facilities are inadequate to meet minimum state standards. An economically distressed area is a political subdivision in which the median household income level does not exceed 75 percent of the state’s median income level, according to the background information in the Analyses of proposed constitutional amendments found at

The report also includes for and against arguments for the proposition, which reads: (SJR 79) “The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $200 million to provide financial assistance for the development of certain projects in economically distressed areas.”

Reasons for it include, Proposition 2 would provide essential financing for necessary water and wastewater infrastructure projects in economically distressed areas of Texas. The Economically Distressed Areas Program (EDAP) needs to be replenished if it is to continue funding existing projects and support future projects for communities that otherwise could not afford access to safe water. While the costs of water infrastructure are high, it is critical that Texans have access to water that meets state standards. Financing some of these costs through bond issues would allow for greater and more reliable funding over a longer period of time. Using general revenue to support EDAP and water infrastructure development would strain available resources without providing the long-term benefits of a bond issuance, which allow expenses to be funded in a more flexible manner.

While arguments against it are: Proposition 2 would increase the size of the government and state bond debt by allowing the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) to issue additional bonds, which would raise expenses for taxpayers. If TWDB needs additional funding for the Economically Distressed Areas Program, that money should come from general revenue during the regular budgeting process for state agencies.

Texans for Fiscal Responsibility are opposed to the proposition. 

The Texas Water Development Board will be allowed to issue bonds, and therefore go into debt, in order to continue financing water supply, sewer service, and drainage projects in economically distressed areas. Our reasoning to oppose it is state-subsidized debt serves as a disincentive to properly prioritizing spending and distorts market forces, according to it’s press release on the propositions.

State Senator Eddie Lucio (D-27) was the lead author of the constitutional amendment, and four Senate Democrats and one Senate Republican were listed as co-authors. In the House and Senate, legislative Democrats supported referring the constitutional amendment to the ballot. Legislative Republicans were divided. Senate Republicans voted 51-27 to pass the constitutional amendment. House Republicans voted 11-8 to pass the constitutional amendment, according to

With Monday as the last day to register for the November election, time to discuss and research the propositions is also running short.

If you have an opinion on one of the 10 propositions on the ballot, we encourage you to write a letter to the editor or even consider a column on where you stand on a proposition and why.

Letters to the editor should be 300 words or less, and must include your signature, address and phone number (for verification). Letters on local issues will take top priority; all others will be published on a first-come basis as space allows. Letters considered to be libelous will not be printed. 


Dawn Burleigh is the general manager and editor of The Orange Leader. She can be reached at