Recognizing the current shortage of funds available for environmental water transactions in the state, Texas Water Trade has structured its own funding resource, the Texas Flows Fund, to support projects that commit water to environmental needs.

The Texas Flows Fund is designed to make funding available to any nonprofit advancing an environmental water project. Funds are exclusively limited to the acquisition of water, whether through temporary contracts or permanent acquisition.

In July 2021, we awarded our first Texas Flows Fund grants to the Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to finance water transactions that will enhance migratory bird habitats in the Gulf of Mexico.

Our $135,000 grant to GBF will be used to buy over 5,000 acre-feet of water that will be deployed on lands in East and West Galveston Bay that are critical nesting and resting stops for hundreds of bird species.

GBF is buying the freshwater under contracts with two local water providers, the Chambers-Liberty Counties Navigation District and the Gulf Coast Water Authority. The stored water, which is coming from upstream resources in the Trinity and Brazos river basins, will be delivered onto private properties via irrigation canals. Participating landowners can use this water to enhance natural or engineered wetlands that support a diverse array of bird species. When low-rainfall conditions imperil critical aquatic habitat, GBF will ask the landowners to release water that has been delivered onto their lands into adjoining estuary inlets. In this way, GBF and their private partners can enhance the resilience of bird and marine populations. TWT looks forward to working with GBF over this multi-year program to monitor and quantify the ecological benefits of this innovative approach to meeting the freshwater needs of Galveston Bay.

A second Texas Flows Fund grant was awarded to The Nature Conservancy to support water purchases from the Lower Colorado River Authority to sustain wetlands at TNC’s Clive Runnels Family Mad Island Marsh Preserve. Purchased water will be used to maintain and enhance 300 acres of coastal wetlands that provide vital habitat for over 250 bird species.

The transactions were made possible by grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and The Meadows Foundation. Texas Water Trade will be soliciting its next round of grant applications in early 2022. For more information, please email Quinn McColly at mccolly@texaswatertrade.org.