Federal, state, and partner contributions are critical to the success of the GBEP. The Estuary Program is funded annually with EPA funds from Section 320 of the Clean Water Act, which are matched (1:1) with state funds from the TCEQ. The partnership between the TCEQ and EPA is important to successful implementation of the Galveston Bay Plan, since some plan actions fulfill the tenants of the Clean Water Act and Texas Water Code and support the missions of both agencies.
The GBEP receives additional state funding, which is leveraged to match other federal grants.
The GBEP provides technical support to its partners in developing and securing funding for a variety of project types and applies for external funding when applicable. Awards received include Coastal Impact Assistance Program, which was administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with the Texas General Land Office, and the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The Estuary Program project development and funding is unique in that the staff members work closely with stakeholders to take a project from concept to implementation. This process is one of the strengths of the Estuary Program as it has garnered diverse and vital partnerships and helped leverage resources from multiple entities and organizations.
The fiscal year for the State of Texas is September 1 through August 31. Throughout the year the Galveston Bay Council and its subcommittees meet to develop projects that are aligned with the Galveston Bay Plan.
The Natural Resource Uses (NRU), Water and Sediment Quality (WSQ), Research and Monitoring (M&R), and Public Participation and Education (PPE) subcommittees meet quarterly during the year to discuss each group’s priority focus and determine what projects or issues need to be addressed. The subcommittees also work in concert with the Galveston Bay Council, the Budget and Priorities Subcommittee (B&P), and the Estuary Program staff to develop priority needs. The B&P subcommittee consists of the chairs of each of the subcommittees and the Council Chair and Vice Chair as well as former Council Chairs. This body also meets regularly to review and assess the needs of the program and the other subcommittees.
Starting in early summer, the committees meet to set priority needs that will help determine project planning for the upcoming fiscal year funding.
By early fall, each subcommittee meets to review project proposals based on the priorities set throughout the year. A project proposal submission form is made available for each subcommittee and the public at large. Projects are presented in the September subcommittee meetings.
After subcommittee members have reviewed the proposals, projects are selected either by consensus or ranking depending on the approved process in each subcommittee.
Once the projects are selected by each subcommittee, the projects are then reviewed by the B&P subcommittee. This body is tasked with providing a balanced fiscal year budget for the program that takes into consideration program needs, operating costs, and project funding.
In October, the Council is presented the GBEP budget that includes the proposed projects. Once the Council has approved the projects and proposed GBEP budget, the Estuary Program and the TCEQ work to develop the fiscal year workplan for the EPA that lays out the program operating costs, project funding, and program needs.