FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 18, 2020
AUSTIN, TEXAS — Yesterday, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) approved selected project applications to receive grant funding through the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) for a portion of their total project cost. The Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council ("Council") was among the 17 applicants selected to receive funds for watershed flood protection planning studies eligible under Category 1 of the 2020 Flood Intended Use Plan.
The Council is a voluntary association of local governments serving Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy Counties. To improve the regions' resilience from future flood events, community leaders in the lower Rio Grande River basin have determined a need for a collaborative regional approach to their flood planning strategies. The Council will receive a FIF grant of $7,983,000 to conduct a regional flood planning study, which represents 90 percent of the study's total estimated cost. As part of the planning phase, the goal of the study is to improve drainage data to support science-driven policy and decision-making. In turn, this will help community leaders identify, assess, and prioritize local and regional flood management projects that would support the region. It is projected the study will be completed on March 31, 2024.
The 2019 Texas Legislature passed several bills related to flooding, including Senate Bill 7 which lead to the creation of the FIF program. The new FIF program provides financial assistance in the form of loans with an interest rate of 0% and grants for flood control, flood mitigation, and drainage projects. As Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and a co-author of Senate Bill 500 during the 86th Legislative Session, Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa was instrumental in securing funding to start the FIF program through a one-time transfer of $793 million from the "Rainy Day" Fund.
Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa issued the following statement:
"I appreciate the leadership of the Board of Directors and the staff of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council for taking advantage of the Flood Infrastructure Fund program. The funds will prove to be a long-lasting investment that increases the resiliency of our community. The Council understands the impact flooding events have caused in recent years and the need for funding assistance to alleviate expenses that have transpired through these disasters. The Rio Grande Valley will benefit from the data obtained through the study that will be used to assess the feasibility of future projects. With today's action by the TWDB, the Rio Grande Valley is taking the next step of planning for future flood events and mitigating the damaged caused."