$6.8 million in the works for Texas flood warning systems

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas leaders will soon take the final step in fixing a problem that could have kept millions for disaster planning from communities throughout the state – an allocation mistake first revealed in a KXAN Investigation last month.

On Tuesday, the Texas Water Development Board is set to consider authorizing $6.8 million in emergency funding for a network of stream gauges and floodplain management. The amount is meant to replace money that became wrapped up in a financial snag between various state entities – including the Legislative Budget Board and the governor’s office.

“Unfortunately, that funding was improperly appropriated to an account that cannot be accessed with this emergency action,” Gov. Greg Abbott explained in a letter to the state’s top accountant.

After KXAN’s report, Abbott ordered “immediate” funding, eventually tapping a disaster contingency account. If approved, the Water Development Board would administer that money.

As deadly flooding hit Central Texas in May, state lawmakers were wrapping up the legislative session and challenged in making budget changes so late in the game. Abbott’s office worked with Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, on a last-minute tweak to a bill to fund flood warning systems.

“That investment is long overdue, and I’m hopeful it is only the beginning off a renewed state commitment to flood preparedness,” Watson told KXAN.

Clearing up the current funding issue could help on waterways like the Blanco River in Hays County. There are no gauges along a 40-mile portion of the river upstream from Wimberley – the area with the heaviest and deadliest flooding over Memorial Day weekend.

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