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Ag Commish announces water relief funds

2011 saw the worst Texas drought in 100 years.
2011 saw the worst Texas drought in 100 years.

AUSTIN — With an historic drought threatening to deplete entire water supplies in some rural Texas communities, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples today announced the availability of funding to sustain and enhance water resources. 

The funds, totaling approximately $5 million and made available through the federal Texas Community Development Block Grant Program, will finance waterway infrastructure improvements, new drilling methods and other strategies for securing sufficient water reserves.

“The worst one-year drought in Texas history made its print in the record books last year, and the long-term effects of that devastating dry spell will challenge us for years to come,” Commissioner Staples said. “Our rural communities have been some of the hardest hit areas of the state and many are in dire need of water source restoration, repair and replenishment. With these funds, we hope to provide much-needed relief to communities that are dangerously close to running dry.”

Upon transfer of the Texas Department of Rural Affairs to the Texas Department of Agriculture on Oct. 1, 2011, Commissioner Staples recognized the underutilization of certain disaster-designated funds and immediately went to work to ensure those dollars would be more readily available to communities impacted by drought, flooding and other types of disasters.

Eligible counties and cities must be named in a state or presidential disaster declaration. Counties must have populations of fewer than 200,000 residents, and cities must have populations under 50,000. Projects eligible for funding consideration include, but are not limited to debris clearance, road reconstruction, flood and drainage facilities, relocation of water intake facilities and the installation of water lines to access new water sources.

To request a copy of the funding application, contact Tom Entsminger at (512) 936-7891 or Tom.Entsminger@TexasAgriculture.gov. Applications must be submitted within 12 months of the date of the disaster declaration. Funds will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.