USACE, EPA and TWBD sign agreement for coordination on large Texas water supply projects

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Southwest Division, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Texas Water Development Board (TWBD) have signed an agreement for interagency coordination with regards to large water supply projects in the State of Texas.

With this agreement, the agencies will be assisting applicants for water supply projects by providing them guidelines and methods for producing some of the data required as part of permit evaluation process under section 404 of the Clean Water Act, as noted by USACE SWD commander Brigadier General David Hill.

Hill said: “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 workgroup 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.”

The three agencies have been engaging talks since 2015 focusing on improving interagency coordination related to large water supply projects in Texas.

In general, large water supply projects are those projects where predictable impacts can be significant enough that Environmental Impact Statement is required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry said: “Water plays a big role in our local communities and managing water is a growing concern across the United States, especially in drought prone areas like Texas.

“When reservoir water levels get lower and ground water 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.”

In the partnering agreement, TWBD will participate, not with regulatory jurisdiction but it will participate along with USACE and EPA through its expertise in water planning.

It can contribute significantly through its institutional knowledge of Texas water planning process and will assist in identifying efficiencies in the permit process.

Texas Water Development Board executive administrator Jeff Walker said: “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.

“As a resource to this cooperative effort, we are participating in a core mission of our agency--planning for the state's water supplies.”