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New Financial Program Available for Texas Communities

Updated on April 8: TWDB has pushed back its Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) Abridged Applications to Monday, June 15 at 5 p.m.

A new financial assistance program will soon become available to assist in the funding of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects.

On Nov. 5, Texas voters approved Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF). In conjunction with the constitutional amendment, the legislature made a one-time transfer of $793 million from the Economic Stabilization or “Rainy Day” Fund to the FIF via Senate Bill 500 and passed Senate Bill (SB) 7, which outlines uses of the FIF.

Senate Bill 8, also passed by the 86th Legislature, outlined a new state-wide flood planning effort to be administered by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), with the first state flood plan due no later than Sept. 1, 2024. Once the statewide flood plan is approved, only projects appearing as recommended strategies in the plan will be eligible for FIF funding.

The TWDB is the state agency charged with administering the new FIF program, establishing qualifying projects, and allocating the $793 million from the Rainy Day fund. On March 16, the TWDB released the final FIF rules and Intended Use Plan (IUP), highlighting eligible projects including:

  • planning and design activities;
  • work to obtain necessary regulatory approvals; and
  • construction and/or implementation of flood projects.

Financial assistance will be available both as grant and 0% interest rate loans for projects that are structural (levees, floodwalls, retention basins) and nonstructural (wetlands restoration, warning systems, hydraulic/hydrologic studies). To be eligible, projects must involve collaboration among neighboring cities, counties, river authorities and other related districts to make sure that improvements are coordinated and don't harm others.

Four project categories are available, shown with possible funding:

  • CATEGORY 1: Flood Protection Planning for Watersheds (“flood control planning” before a flood event)0
    • Loans with an interest rate of 0% or Grants from 50% grant to 100% possible
  • CATEGORY 2: Planning, Acquisition, Design, Construction, Rehabilitation (All combinations of these activities)
    • Loans with an interest rate of 0% or Grants from 5% to 40% possible
  • CATEGORY 3: Federal Award Matching Funds
    • Loans with an interest rate of 0% or Grants from 5% to 90% possible
  • CATEGORY 4: Measures immediately effective in protecting life and property
    • Loans with an interest rate of 0% or Grants from 5% to 90% possible

NOTE: Grants awarded on a variety of qualifications such as federal disaster declaration areas, service area income levels, unemployment rates, population declines, or projects considered green or nature based. See the FIF Intended Use Plan for details.

Anticipated Key Dates to be aware of in 2020:

  • March 16: The TWDB began accepting Abridged Applications
  • Updated: Monday, June 15 at 5 p.m: Abridged Applications are due to TWDB
  • Early summer: The full list of Abridged Applications with project rankings will be made available and invitations to submit full Financial Assistance Applications will be delivered
  • August: Full applications due; TWDB staff review begins
  • October: TWDB Board makes funding commitments
  • April (2021): deadline to close funding commitments (six months from commitment date)

What should you do now? Contact Freese and Nichols for assistance with:

  • Identifying flood-control projects that could qualify for funding,
  • Studying needs, developing cost estimates, assisting staff in navigating the application process,
  • Teaming with nearby communities, water districts and other partners,
  • Preparing for the regional flood-planning process, and
  • Application services.

Freese and Nichols will continue to provide updates and helpful decision tools in the near future. In the meantime, the TWDB has provided links to relevant U.S. Census demographic data as well as a map showing the Texas Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

Don’t miss this unprecedented opportunity to plan for and repair damages caused by devastating floods and to protect against future storms.

For additional information, contact me, Mark Evans, Funding Specialist, at 512-536-3670 or Mark.Evans@freese.com.

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TagsFunding, State flood plan, flood plan, Flood, TWDB,