Water Governance

As an important aspect of water sustainability, the Texas Water Explorer examines various levels of governance over water supply and environmental flows, the management of water quality concerns, local groundwater regulation and endangered species issues.

What does the Texas Water Explorer tell us about Water Governance?

Environmental Flows

This indicator examines the environmental flow standards adopted by the state of Texas in order to balance a sound ecological environment in Texas' rivers and bays with the water needs of people.

Environmental Flows - The environmental flows process initiated by Senate Bill 3 to address this challenge resulted in adoption of 96 instream flow and six estuary freshwater inflow standards covering 17 of Texas' 23 river basins. These were passed into law between 2011-2014 and must be met as part of any new water rights applications.

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Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: Environmental Flows Rules

Watershed Management (for Water Quality)

Participatory processes such as watershed protection plans (WPP) and total maximum daily loads (TMDL) provide a means to develop collaborative solutions to water quality impairments. This indicator examines the locations of WPP and TMDL projects across the state.

Watershed Protection Plans - There are 34 watershed protection plans across Texas, in varying stages of development and implementation.

Total Maximum Daily Loads - Texas has 150 river segments, 11 lakes or reservoirs and 19 bays with total maximum daily load allocations and implementation plans.

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Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board: Watershed Protection Plans
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: TMDL Program

Groundwater Conservation Districts

Groundwater conservation districts (GCDs) provide local groundwater regulation and management to meet desired future conditions for Texas' aquifers while maintaining Texas' strong private property rights heritage. This indicator examines GCDs in Texas by mapping and summarizing existing districts and by noting areas of the state without local regulation of groundwater.

Groundwater Conservation Districts - 174 (69%) of Texas' 254 counties are at least partially covered by designated groundwater conservation districts, meaning these counties have local management of groundwater resources.

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Texas Water Development Board: Groundwater Conservation Districts

Endangered Species

This indicator examines the areas where the Endangered Species Act must be balanced with water resources management due to the presence of threatened and endangered freshwater species.

Endangered Species - 180 (70%) of Texas' 254 counties have federally threatened or endangered freshwater species, which highlights the importance of balancing human water needs with the conservation of rare and unique species. Eight additional counties have candidate mussel species currently being considered for listing.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Endangered Species Act