You are here

Water Supply Enhancement Program

Formerly the Texas Brush Control Program

Update: Sunset Review/Legislation Implementation Status

Program Overview
Program Statute – Texas Agriculture Code, Chapter 203
Program Rules – Texas Administrative Code, Title 31, Chapter 517, Subchapter B
State Water Supply Enhancement Plan
Stakeholder Committee and Science Advisory Committee
Feasibility Studies and Project Watersheds for Brush Control
Program Policies
Request for Proposals for Water Supply Enhancement Projects
Program Reports
Partnering Agency Reports
For More Information

Program Overview

Scarcity and competition for water have made sound water planning and management increasingly important. The demand for water in Texas is expected to increase by about 22%, to a demand of nearly 22M ac‐ft in 2060; while existing water supplies are projected to decrease by about 10%, to just over 15M ac‐ft. 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, conserve water lost to evapotranspiration, recharge groundwater and aquifers, enhance spring and stream flows, improve soil health, restore native wildlife habitat by improving rangeland, improve livestock grazing distribution, protect water quality and reduce soil erosion, aid in wildfire suppression by reducing hazardous fuels, and manage invasive species.

In order to help meet the State’s critical water conservation needs and ensure availability of public 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 targeted 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 public 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.

Program Statute - Texas Agriculture Code, Chapter 203

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, now known as the State Water Supply Enhancement Plan. The TSSWCB periodically revises the Plan and adopted the most recent revision in July 2014. The State Water Supply Enhancement Plan 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 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 targeted 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.

Program Rules – Texas Administrative Code, Title 31, Chapter 517, Subchapter B

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.

Further amendments to the rules were adopted by the State Board on July 28, 2014 to continue implementing provisions of House Bill 1808 and ensure consistency with the State Water Supply Enhancement Plan and other programmatic policies and documents.

State Water Supply Enhancement Plan

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, was updated and revised in order to continue implementing provisions of House Bill 1808 passed by the 82nd Texas Legislature. The State Board adopted the current State Water Supply Enhancement Plan on July 28, 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 considers whether or not a Regional Water Planning Group has identified brush control as a water management strategy in the State Water Plan.

Stakeholder Committee and Science Advisory Committee

In order to provide recommendations to the agency and guide the decisions of the State Board in implementing provisions of House Bill 1808, the TSSWCB established a Stakeholder Committee of program beneficiaries and a Science Advisory Committee of technical experts. Since early 2012, TSSWCB has worked with these two Committees to discuss how best to implement changes to the WSEP. Both Committees have worked hard to ensure that the best available science is being used by the TSSWCB to direct precious State funds to those areas where the positive impacts of brush control to enhance public water supplies can best be realized.

The Stakeholder Committee of program beneficiaries provided recommendations for WSEP goals and the proposal ranking process. The Stakeholder Committee is comprised of:

The Science Advisory Committee of technical experts provided recommendations regarding feasibility studies and the method for prioritizing acreage for brush control. The Science Advisory Committee is comprised of:

Feasibility Studies and Project Watersheds for Brush Control

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]

TSSWCB WSEP Project Watersheds

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, being conducted either with TSSWCB WSEP funding or collaboratively funded by third-parties:

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:

TSSWCB WSEP Feasibility Studies In Progress

Download an ArcGIS shapefile (ZIP, # kB) of WSEP Feasibility Studies In Progress.

Local sponsors across the state have either applied for WSEP funding to conduct new feasibility studies or informally proposed new feasibility studies. As funds are appropriated by the Legislature, and at the recommendation of the Science Advisory Committee, the TSSWCB may consider allocating WSEP funds to complete any of these proposed feasibility studies for watersheds that do not have an acceptable study.

Proposed Feasibility Studies to be considered in the future:

  • Bandera County groundwater recharge to Medina River
  • DeWitt County, including lower Guadalupe River and Lavaca River
  • Hubbard Creek Lake (saltcedar specific)
  • Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir (impounds Lampasas River)
  • Upper Brazos River Basin above Possum Kingdom Reservoir
  • Caldwell and Guadalupe Counties, Carrizo‐Wilcox Aquifer Recharge Zone
  • Upper Blanco River, Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone
  • Upper Cibolo Creek, Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone
  • Lake Buchanan, including San Saba River, Brady Creek, and lower Pecan Bayou
  • Lake LBJ, primarily Llano River below confluence of South and North Llano Rivers
  • Lake Whitney, including Steele Creek
  • White River Reservoir (saltcedar specific) [not shown on map]
  • Travis County portion of the Hill Country Priority Groundwater Management Area [not shown on map]

TSSWCB WSEP Proposed Feasibility Studies MAP

Download an ArcGIS shapefile (ZIP, # kB) of WSEP Proposed Feasibility Studies.

Studies Completed 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 Completed 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 Completed 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.

North Concho River Pilot Brush Control Project

Beginning in 1999, the Texas Legislature directed the TSSWCB to begin implementing the Texas Brush Control Program in the North Concho River watershed. This pilot brush control project was appropriated $16 million in fiscal years 2000-2003. A compilation of previously published materials and publications from TSSWCB and collaborating partners pertaining to the pilot North Concho project is available here. Many of the changes implemented in the Program due to House Bill 1808 stem from lessons learned during the pilot North Concho project.

Program Policies

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 and administering the cost-share program.

These three Policies were incorporated into the Program Rules (31 TAC Chapter 517, Subchapter B) and the State Water Supply Enhancement Plan.

FY2014-2015 Request for Proposals for Water Supply Enhancement Projects

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 FY2014-2015 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.

Program Reports

Partnering Agency Reports

For More Information, Contact:

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 12/15/2014.

Note On Viewing Portable Document Format (PDF) documents

To view the PDF document listed on this page you will need to have Adobe Acrobat® Reader installed on your computer. The software is available as a free download from the Adobe website.