- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - State officials will decide later this week whether to approve $1 billion in loans and financial help to fund future water projects across Texas.

Many of the 21 applicants are in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas, where the population is expected to grow. There are also projects in the Rio Grande Valley, Central Texas, the Gulf Coast and West Texas. The Texas Water Development Board will vote Thursday in Austin on the approximately 30 projects.

Voters in 2013 approved using $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to finance projects in the state water plan, which calls for more than 3,000 projects and strategies to provide additional water. Lawmakers have said that money could multiply through interest earnings and revenue bonds and grow to $27 billion over 50 years.

Texas’ population is expected to grow by 82 percent in the next 50 years.

The first-round funding vote will come a week after the last drought designation on the U.S. Drought Monitor map was removed. It was the first time since April 27, 2010, that Texas had no areas in a drought stage.

Despite the plentiful rains the state got in May, lake levels near San Angelo in West Texas remain very low.

2011 was the state’s driest year ever. High temperatures, record-low rainfall and windy conditions dried out the entire state. Lake levels across the state plummeted, cities and towns ratcheted up water restrictions and about 300 million trees died because of the dry conditions.

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This story has been corrected to show that there are 21 applicants, not 21 projects, and the headline has been corrected to show voters, not lawmakers, approved using the $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund.

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