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Water Supply Enhancement Program
Formerly the Texas Brush Control Program
Program Statute – Texas Agriculture Code, Chapter 203
Program Rules – Texas Administrative Code, Title 31, Chapter 517, Subchapter B
State Water Supply Enhancement Plan
Feasibility Studies and Priority Watersheds for Brush Control
Request for Proposals for Water Supply Enhancement Projects
Partnering Agency Reports
For More Information
Scarcity and competition for water have made sound water planning and management increasingly important. With Texas’ population expected to grow by 82% in the next 50 years, the availability of water supplies is essential for not only the Texans of today but also for those of tomorrow (2012 State Water Plan, Texas Water Development Board). Noxious brush, detrimental to water conservation, has invaded millions of acres of rangeland and riparian areas in Texas, reducing or eliminating stream flow and aquifer recharge through interception of rainfall and increased evapotranspiration. Brush control has the potential to enhance water yield, improve soil conservation, protect water quality, and manage invasive species.
In order to help meet the State’s critical water conservation needs and ensure availability of water supplies, in 2011 the 82nd Texas Legislature established the Water Supply Enhancement Program (WSEP) administered by the TSSWCB, with the purpose of increasing available surface and ground water through the selective control of brush species that are detrimental to water conservation (e.g., juniper, mesquite, saltcedar).
The TSSWCB collaborates with SWCDs, and other local, regional, state, and federal agencies to identify watersheds across the state where it is feasible to implement brush control in order to enhance water supplies. The TSSWCB uses a competitive grant process to rank feasible projects and allocate WSEP grant funds, giving priority to projects that balance the most critical water conservation need of municipal water user groups with the highest projected water yield from brush control.
In watersheds where WSEP grant funds have been allocated, the TSSWCB works through SWCDs to deliver technical assistance to landowners in order to implement brush control activities for water supply enhancement. A 10-year resource management plan is developed for each property enrolled in the WSEP which describes the brush control activities to be implemented, follow-up treatment requirements, and brush density to be maintained after treatment. Cost-share assistance is provided through the WSEP to landowners implementing brush control activities on eligible acres.
In 1985, the 69th Texas Legislature created the Texas Brush Control Program (Senate Bill 1083) and designated the TSSWCB as the agency responsible for administering the Program. The goal of this legislation, which was authored by Senator Bill Sims of San Angelo, was to enhance the State's water resources through selective control of brush species. This statute was codified in Chapter 203 of the Texas Agriculture Code. The TSSWCB was given authority to delegate responsibility for administering certain portions of the Brush Control Program to local SWCDs.
In 1986, in accordance with Texas Agriculture Code §203.051, the TSSWCB first prepared and adopted a State Brush Control Plan. The TSSWCB periodically revised the Plan and adopted the most recent revision in September 2009. The State Brush Control Plan includes a comprehensive strategy for managing brush in areas where it is contributing to a substantial water conservation problem and designates areas of critical need in the state in which to implement the Brush Control Program.
The Brush Control Program was unfunded until 1999, when the 76th Texas Legislature appropriated funds to implement the Brush Control Program. TSSWCB was appropriated funds for 12 fiscal years (2000-2011) to carry-out the Brush Control Program.
Texas Agriculture Code §203.056 requires the TSSWCB to submit an annual report on the activities of the Program to the Governor, the Speaker of the House, and the Lieutenant Governor before January 31 of each year.
Texas Agriculture Code, Chapter 203, Subchapter E, created a cost-share program for brush control, limited the cost-share rate to 70% of the total cost of a practice, and limited the cost-share program to critical areas designated by the TSSWCB and to methods of brush control approved by the TSSWCB. The Subchapter also established criteria for approving applications, setting priorities, and contracting for cost-sharing.
The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission conducted a review of the TSSWCB in 2009-2011. During this process the Sunset Commission adopted recommendations to address several issues identified with agency programs. One issue concluded that the then current framework of the Texas Brush Control Program was ineffective for meeting critical water conservation needs.
As a result of the Sunset Commission’s recommendations for improving the program, in 2011, the 82nd Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1808 which delineated major changes to TSSWCB’s programs, including the elimination of the Texas Brush Control Program effective September 2011. House Bill 1808 established a new program for the agency, the WSEP, with the purpose of increasing available surface and ground water through the selective control of brush species that are detrimental to water conservation. TSSWCB has been appropriated funds for 4 fiscal years (2012-2015) to carry-out this new WSEP.
Texas Agriculture Code §203.012 authorizes the TSSWCB to adopt reasonable rules necessary to carry out the WSEP. On March 22, 2012, the State Board adopted a comprehensive revision to 31 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 517, Subchapter B, transitioning the rules from the Brush Control Program to the WSEP.
These rules must be amended in order to continue implementing provisions of House Bill 1808. Further, these proposed amendments to the rules are necessary to ensure consistency with the State Water Supply Enhancement Plan and other programmatic policies and documents. The TSSWCB requests that the public and affected stakeholders review and provide comment on proposed amendments to 31 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 517, Subchapter B, Cost-Share Assistance For Water Supply Enhancement, concerning the agency’s administration of the WSEP. The proposed amendments to the rules were published June 6, 2014 in the Texas Register for a 30-day public review and comment period.
After the comment period, the TSSWCB will address comments received and incorporate them into a final version of the proposed amendments to the rules that will be considered for adoption by the agency on July 28, 2014.
In accordance with Texas Agriculture Code §203.051, the TSSWCB must prepare and adopt a State Water Supply Enhancement Plan which serves as the State’s comprehensive strategy for managing brush in all areas of the state where brush is contributing to a substantial water conservation problem.
The State Water Supply Enhancement Plan, formerly the State Brush Control Plan, must be updated and revised in order to continue implementing provisions of House Bill 1808 passed by the 82nd Texas Legislature. The former State Brush Control Plan was last updated in September 2009. The TSSWCB requests that the public and affected stakeholders review and provide comment on the proposed revision of the State Water Supply Enhancement Plan. Comments must be received no later than the extended deadline of July 21, 2014.
The State Water Supply Enhancement Plan also serves as the programmatic guidance for the TSSWCB’s WSEP. The State Water Supply Enhancement Plan documents the goals, processes, and results the TSSWCB has established for the WSEP, including goals describing the intended use of a water supply enhanced by the WSEP and the populations that the WSEP will target.
The State Water Supply Enhancement Plan discusses the competitive grant process, the proposal ranking criteria, factors that must be considered in a feasibility study, the geospatial analysis methodology for prioritizing acreage for brush control, how the agency will allocate funding, priority watersheds across the state for water supply enhancement and brush control, how success for the WSEP will be assessed and reported, and how overall water yield will be projected and tracked.
In prioritizing water supply enhancement projects for funding, the TSSWCB must consider the need for conservation of water resources within the territory of a proposed project, based on the State Water Plan as adopted by the Texas Water Development Board. The TSSWCB also considers whether or not a Regional Water Planning Group has identified brush control as a water management strategy in the State Water Plan.
Notice of the availability of the State Water Supply Enhancement Plan for public review and comment has been published June 6, 2014 in the Texas Register. The TSSWCB is accepting written comments on the proposed document from June 6, 2014 through the extended deadline of July 21, 2014. Written comments on the proposed plan may be submitted by email to Aaron Wendt at awendt [at] tsswcb.texas.gov.
Download the draft State Water Supply Enhancement Plan document (PDF, 1.57 MB).
The draft State Water Supply Enhancement Plan was discussed at a public hearing on July 1, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. at the TSSWCB headquarters office located at 4311 South 31st Street, Suite 125, Temple, Texas, 76502. At the hearing, persons and entities presented information and suggestions for changes to the proposed plan. The presentation and handouts provided at the hearing are available for download (PDF, 2.52 MB).
After the public hearing and comment period, the TSSWCB will address comments received and incorporate them into a final State Water Supply Enhancement Plan that will be considered for adoption by the agency on July 28, 2014.
Since 1998, TSSWCB, in cooperation with many partnering entities, has been conducting assessments of the feasibility of conducting brush control for water supply enhancement in watersheds across Texas. These feasibility studies estimate the potential water yield enhanced through brush control. For a watershed to be considered eligible for allocation of WSEP cost-share funds, a feasibility study must demonstrate increases in projected post-treatment water yield as compared to the pre-treatment conditions.
Feasibility Studies conducted and published, and the reports accepted by the TSSWCB as established WSEP Project Watersheds:
- Lake Arrowhead
- Lake Brownwood
- Upper Guadalupe River above Canyon Lake
- Gonzales County [Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer Recharge Zone and Guadalupe River]
- Frio River above Choke Canyon Reservoir
- Nueces River above Lake Corpus Christi [above confluence Frio River]
- Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone over
- Frio River
- Hondo Creek
- Medina River
- Upper Nueces River
- Sabinal River
- Seco Creek
- North Concho River [O.C. Fisher Lake]
- O.H. Ivie Reservoir [Upper Colorado River and Concho River]
- Wichita River above Lake Kemp
- Canadian River above Lake Meredith
- Palo Pinto Reservoir
- Fort Phantom Hill Reservoir
- E.V. Spence Reservoir [Upper Colorado River]
- Lake J.B. Thomas [Upper Colorado River]
- Pedernales River [Lake Travis]
- Twin Buttes Reservoir [including Lake Nasworthy]
Download an ArcGIS shapefile (ZIP, # kB) of WSEP Project Watersheds.
Several feasibility studies are in progress. Once these studies are completed, if they demonstrate increases in projected post-treatment water yield as compared to the pre-treatment conditions, the TSSWCB may consider accepting the feasibility studies and establishing these areas as WSEP Project Watersheds.
Feasibility Studies In Progress, conducted either with TSSWCB WSEP funding or third-party funding:
- Goliad and Victoria Counties, including lower San Antonio and Guadalupe Rivers
- Lake Alan Henry (impounds South Fork Double Mountain Fork Brazos River)
- O.H. Ivie Reservoir lake basin (saltcedar specific)
- Upper Llano River, including South and North Llano Rivers and Junction City Lake
- Wilson, Karnes, and Refugio Counties (third-party funding; San Antonio River Authority)
- Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone over Upper Nueces River (Arundo specific) (third-party funding; Nueces River Authority and Edwards Aquifer Authority) [not shown on map]
The following are not feasibility studies, per se; rather, these studies are critical to the WSEP and will contribute to the overall understanding of water supply enhancement through brush control:
- Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer Groundwater Availability Model in Gonzales County - linkage to brush control feasibility study
- Evaluation of the Effects of Ashe Juniper Control on Water Quantity at Honey Creek State Natural Area - emperical data and model linkage
- Effects of Huisache Removal on Evapotranspiration in South Central Texas at McFaddin Ranch in Victoria County (third-party funding; U.S. Geological Survey and San Antonio River Authority) [not shown on map]
Download an ArcGIS shapefile (ZIP, # kB) of WSEP Feasibility Studies In Progress.
Studies for Fiscal Years 2002-2003
The feasibility of using brush control to enhance water yield was studied in the Lake Arrowhead, Lake Brownwood, Fort Phantom Hill Reservoir, and Palo Pinto Reservoir watersheds. The 77th Texas Legislature provided $500,000 to initiate these brush control feasibility studies in September 2001; they were completed in November 2002. The final report (PDF, 2.84 MB) was delivered to the Texas Legislature in December 2002.
Studies for Fiscal Years 2000-2001
In 1999, the Texas Legislature appropriated $1,000,000 to the TSSWCB to conduct eight brush control feasibility studies. The TSSWCB submitted these feasibility studies to the 77th Texas Legislature in January 2001. The Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Water Resources Assessment Team performed modeling to determine water yields and used economic analysis to determine the feasibility of brush control projects in each watershed. The final report (PDF, 13.43 MB) describes the results. Local river authorities and water districts provided information on historic land use and hydrology of each watershed and assessed changes in land use and hydrology due to brush infestation.
Studies for Fiscal Years 1998-1999
In 1998, a year-long study was completed on the North Concho River watershed to determine potential water yield from a comprehensive brush control program throughout the watershed. The study was funded with a grant from the Texas Water Development Board and conducted by the TSSWCB, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Upper Colorado River Authority.
On May 15, 2014, the State Board approved a revised Policy on Allocation of Grant Funds for the WSEP (PDF, 49 kB). This policy was originally approved on March 6, 2013 and revised on July 18, 2013. This policy describes the agency’s WSEP purpose and goals, the competitive grant process and proposal ranking criteria, factors that must be considered in a feasibility study, the geospatial analysis methodology for prioritizing acreage for brush control, and how the agency will allocate funding.
On May 15, 2014, the State Board approved a revised Policy on Brush Control Feasibility Studies for the WSEP (PDF, 63 kB). This policy was originally approved on July 18, 2013. This policy describes the requirements for computer modeling for water yield predictions in feasibility studies and the process to review applications for funding to conduct new feasibility studies.
On May 15, 2014, the State Board approved a Policy on Funding Technical Assistance for Brush Control through SWCDs for the WSEP (PDF, 38 kB). In order to maximize the effective and efficient use of WSEP grant funds, this policy describes the options SWCDs have for providing technical assistance to landowners for brush control and administering the water supply enhancement cost-share program.
This request for proposals closed October 18, 2013. However, the information below is retained to assist potential interested cooperating entities in preparing for the next grant cycle.
The TSSWCB is requesting proposals for water supply enhancement projects seeking funding in FY2014 to conduct brush control under the WSEP. Proposed projects should focus on watersheds with a demonstrated water conservation need and where brush control has been shown, using a computer model, to be a feasible strategy to enhance surface and/or ground water supplies. Proposals must be received by 5:00 p.m. CDT, Friday, October 18, 2013, to be considered for funding.
A competitive proposal review process will be used so that the most appropriate and effective projects are selected for funding. On July 18, 2013, the TSSWCB approved a revised Policy on Allocation of Grant Funds for the WSEP, which describes the program purpose and goals, the competitive grant process and proposal ranking criteria, and how the agency will allocate funding.
Project proposals must relate to a water conservation need, based on information in the State Water Plan as adopted by the Texas Water Development Board. Project proposals will be evaluated giving priority to projects that balance the most critical water conservation need with the highest potential water yield.
WSEP funds will only be allocated to projects that have a completed feasibility study that includes a watershed-specific computer-modeled water yield component developed by a person with expertise as described in Texas Agriculture Code §203.053(b). For a watershed to be considered eligible for cost-share funds, the feasibility study must demonstrate increases in post-treatment water yield as compared to the pre-treatment conditions.
The proposal submission packet includes the application for proposed water supply enhancement projects, a set of instructions that provides explanations of questions on the form and resources for answering those questions, and a set of guidelines that details project eligibility requirements and provides additional information critical for successful applications.
- Proposal for Water Supply Enhancement Project Form (PDF, 450 kB)
- Instructions for FY2014 Proposal Form (PDF, 113 kB)
- Guidelines for FY2014 Proposals (PDF, 263 kB)
- Letter to SWCDs regarding FY2014 Request for Proposals (PDF, 38 kB)
- State Brush Control Plan - revised September 2009 (PDF, 413 kB)
- Water Supply Enhancement Program Annual Report - 2013 (PDF, 812 kB)
- Brush Control Feasibility Studies
- Brush Management - Increasing Usable Water Supplies (PDF, 6.97 MB)
- A Comprehensive Study of Texas Watersheds and Their Impacts on Water Quality and Water Quantity. TSSWCB. 1991. [only available in print]
- Linkage of the Soil and Water Assessment Tool and the Texas Water Availability Model to simulate the effects of brush management on monthly storage of Canyon Lake, south-central Texas, 1995–2010. Asquith, W.H., and J.R. Bumgarner. 2014. U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2013–5239. [Funded in part by TSSWCB] (PDF, 2.13 MB)
- Effect of brush control on evapotranspiration in the North Concho River watershed using the eddy covariance technique. Saleh, A., H. Wu, C.S. Brown, F.M. Teagarden, S.M. McWilliams, L.M. Hauck, and J.S. Millican. 2009. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 64(5): 336-349. [Funded in part by TSSWCB] (PDF, 4.59 MB)
- Subwatershed Selection Criteria for Demonstration of Streamflow Yield Enhancement through Brush Control. Fish, E., and K. Rainwater. 2007. Report to TSSWCB. Texas Tech University, Water Resources Center. [Funded by TSSWCB] (PDF, 1.51 MB)
- Other archived reports
- Evaluation of the TSSWCB Brush Control Program: Monitoring Needs and Water Yield Enhancement. Rainwater, K.A., E.B. Fish, R.E. Zartman, C.G. Wan, J.L. Schroeder, and W.S. Burgett. 2008. Final Report to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Texas Tech University, Water Resources Center. (PDF, 3.17 MB)
- Effects of Brush Management on Water Resources. Jones, C.A. and L. Gregory. 2008. Texas Water Resources Institute, Texas A&M AgriLife Research. TR-338.
Johnny Oswald, WSEP Administrator, 325-481-0335, joswald [at] tsswcb.texas.gov
Melissa Grote, Program Specialist, 830-868-2506, mgrote [at] tsswcb.texas.gov
Kimberly York, Administrative Assistant, 325-481-0335, kyork [at] tsswcb.texas.gov
Aaron Wendt, Natural Resources Specialist, 254-773-2250 ext. 232, awendt [at] tsswcb.texas.gov
This webpage was last updated on 07/17/2014.
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