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Providing for your present and long term freshwater needs.

Photograph of a city skyline, body of water, and a cloudy sky

Provide – Protect – Ensure – Enhance

The Lower Neches Valley Authority provides for the present and long term freshwater needs of municipal, agricultural and industrial customers, protects water quality in the Neches River and Coastal Basin, insures affordability of the water supply, and enhances economic development in the Authority’s jurisdiction.

The Lower Neches Valley Authority is one of the 23 River Authorities created by the State of Texas to develop and manage the waters of the State. Each of these River Authorities was granted powers to conserve, store, control, preserve, utilize and distribute the waters of its respective area for the benefit of its residents.

The State Legislature, in 1933, granted authority to LNVA to operate within Tyler, Hardin, Liberty, Chambers and Jefferson Counties, located within the Neches River Basin and the Neches-Trinity Coastal Basin. The Neches Basin is located in East Texas. The watersheds of the Neches River and its tributaries occupy an area of approximately 10,300 square miles. The river rises near Colfax, Texas and flows generally southward for a distance of 416 miles before entering the coastal estuary, Sabine Lake and ultimately into the Gulf of Mexico.


5,600,000: Ac-Ft of Water per Year   10,300: Sq Mi of Watershed


The Neches River

The area receives generous amounts of rainfall, producing stream flows in the Neches and its tributaries of around 5,600,000 acre-feet of water a year at its mouth at Port Arthur, Texas. The Basin is generally rural in nature, for the most part heavily forested, and Beaumont is its only city with population over 100,000. Among the remaining cities (from north to south) are Tyler, Jacksonville, Palestine, Nacogdoches, Lufkin, Jasper, Woodville, Silsbee, and Port Arthur.

In Sabine Lake, Neches River waters combine with waters of the Sabine River. Together these large, combined streams flow through the deep water Sabine-Neches Ship Channel, Sabine Lake and surrounding marshes into the Gulf of Mexico at Sabine Pass, Texas. Saltwater from the Gulf customarily intermingles with the freshwater sources in Sabine Lake, producing brackish to salty conditions and a haven for both freshwater and saltwater fish and shellfish, as well as waterfowl.

The quality of the Neches River freshwater is excellent for all beneficial uses and is the source of supply for cities, industries and farms throughout the basin.


History & Development

Around the turn of the century, most of East Texas was concerned with conservation of soil and water, drainage, control of floods and navigation, channels, reforestation and promotion of recreational facilities. The area within the Lower Neches Basin during this period was largely agriculturally oriented. In the northern counties of the district, cotton, potatoes, oats, tomatoes and hay were the principal crops. In the southern counties, rice was the crop of choice because of the heavy, dense soils found in that area and the abundance of freshwater. The central counties supported a thriving timber industry. Beef cattle production was also gaining importance.

Throughout much of the basin were numerous oil and gas fields. Indeed, East Texas is the cradle of the modern oil and gas industry. The Beaumont-Port Arthur area became the oil refining capitol of the world when six major oil refineries prospered within Jefferson County. To provide access to world wide markets for products from these refineries, the Neches River was deepened and straightened to the Gulf of Mexico for ocean-going vessels. Ironically, the deepwater channel, which was so valuable to the development and prosperity of the area, also posed a threat to the freshwater supply. Saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico moved inland to the freshwater intakes of the cities, industries and farms. This problem created the need for an organization that protected the freshwater supply and increased the availability of water through storage and distribution systems. To accomplish this, the 43rd Legislature of the State of Texas in 1933 created the Lower Neches Valley Authority as the second River Authority in the State.

In September, 1936, shortly after the creation of LNVA, a public hearing was held in Jacksonville, Texas to receive comments and proposals regarding regulation, conservation and utilization of the waters of the Neches River system as well as the control of floods. It was emphasized that LNVA had investigated the problems and were developing a plan designed to address these type issues in the lower Neches River basin. LNVA’s plan included construction of a large reservoir on the Neches River near Rockland and a regulated dam near Town Bluff for the purpose of storing water and regulating the flow of the river. To deliver the stored water to its area of need, LNVA proposed to build a canal to transport water from these reservoirs to consumers within Jefferson, Liberty and Chambers Counties. The majority of these consumers were rice farmers, but it was clear that the burgeoning industrial water demand faced critical needs, which must be met to assure the industries’ future and to support their employees.

In addition to LNVA’s plan to construct the Rockland Reservoir, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers developed a master plan for control and development of water resources in the Neches basin. The Corps’ plan included construction of two large reservoirs, one on the Neches at Rockland and another at McGee Bend on the Angelina River, and two smaller regulating reservoirs just downstream of the two major reservoirs. It became apparent that the Corps’ planning efforts superseded the more limited scope of LNVA, and further development of the LNVA plan was cancelled

Upon assurances that it would furnish a share of the cost of the Federal project costs, LNVA was named local sponsor of the Neches River Basin reservoirs and furnished $5,000,000 of the construction costs of McGee Bend Reservoir (now Sam Rayburn Reservoir) and Dam B (now Town Bluff Dam and B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir.) LNVA also agreed to contribute $200,000 a year toward the cost of reservoir operations.

Construction of Steinhagen Reservoir began in 1947 and was completed in 1951, The reservoir made a significant improvement in the dependability of stream flows in the lower basin, but it was never intended to be a stand-alone water supply reservoir because of its small size and the increasing demand for fresh water. Shortly after Steinhagen’s completion, construction of Sam Rayburn Reservoir was initiated and impoundment of water in the completed reservoir began in 1965.

Photograph of reservoir being constructed
Photograph of reservoir being constructed
photograph of reservoir



The System

Sam Rayburn and Steinhagen Reservoirs are owned by the U.S. Government and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District. Local financial sponsorship is provided by the Lower Neches Valley Authority. Water stored in Sam Rayburn for use by LNVA is released to Steinhagen (Dam B) Reservoir, from which it flows into the lower Neches River and on to the LNVA freshwater intakes. LNVA has state-approved rights to the use of, essentially, the entire dependable freshwater yield of Rayburn Reservoir, approximately 820,000 acre-feet (or 267 trillion gallons) a year. This volume not only meets current demands, but is expected to be sufficient to meet the projected needs of the lower Neches basin far into the 21st century. In releasing freshwater through Rayburn and Steinhagen powerhouses, electrical power is generated for use in homes and industries within the area.

Delivery of fresh surface water by the distribution system is performed by withdrawal of the water from the lower Neches River and Pine Island Bayou by 21 very large pumps. They can each deliver between 20,000 and 110,000 gallons a minute and can pump a total of over one billion gallons of water a day. The pumps are driven by huge, natural gas-fueled engines to provide fresh water to eight cities and water districts, 26 industries and over 100 irrigated farms.

The water is lifted into the canal system to a height which will permit its delivery throughout most of the 400-mile canal system without further pumping. Water deliveries are made to cities, industries and farms on a continuous, 24-hour a day, seven day a week basis. The canal system covers an area of approximately 700 square miles, principally within Jefferson, Liberty, and Chambers Counties.


Economic Development

The Economic Development Program (EDP) is intended and expected to carry out the purposes of strengthening the community base in the LNVA service area. Requests for allocation of funds under the EDP will be by written application and will be divided into three (3) funding categories: Small ($1,000 or less), Medium (Not to exceed $10,000), and Large (Not to exceed $100,000 for water and wastewater infrastructure, or $50,000 for all other projects). The recipient of funds under one of the EDP categories is required to be located or domiciled within LNVA's territory, service area or outside the service area if the Authority enters into an interlocal agreement with an entity pursuant to Section 8504.203 of the Special District Local Laws Code.

Small Application Category 

Assistance under the Small Application category shall not exceed $1,000 per occurrence. Examples of requests that may fit the Small category are those activities that may involve any of, but not limited to, the following:

  • Providing materials, equipment and/or in-kind services to communities, schools and non-profit organizations;
  • Providing funding of a non-profit or civic group’s community-based project/program;
  • Participating in and/or sponsoring attendance to non-profit regional economic development coalitions and/or private and public organizations intended to promote viable communities and economic growth within LNVA's statutory district and service area;
  • Providing training and strategic planning for communities, schools, and non-profit organizations.
Medium Application Category 

Assistance under the Medium Application category shall not exceed $10,000 per occurrence. Examples of requests that may fit the Medium category are those activities that may involve any of, but not limited to, the following:

  • Providing materials, equipment and/or in-kind services to communities, schools and non-profit organizations;
  • Providing funds for a community project such as a park or playground improvement project, or public access improvement project such as sidewalks, ramps, signage lighting;
  • Providing funding assistance for studies aimed at attracting business, improving services or employment;
  • Providing funding assistance for workforce education, education programs designed to increase learning especially in the areas of science and mathematics;
  • Providing funding assistance for qualifying projects/programs initiated by communities, schools, and non-profit organizations that meet one or more of the objectives set out in the Policy Statement;
Large Application Category 

Assistance under the Large Application category shall not exceed $100,000 per water/wastewater infrastructure project or $50,000 for all other projects. Examples of requests that may fit the Large category are those projects that may involve any of, but not limited to, the following:

  • Water and wastewater infrastructure improvement projects, including funds that supplement local matching funds for established federal and state grant programs,
  • Acquisition of properties for business development or redevelopment,
  • Improvements to public communications,
  • Main street improvement projects, creation of public parks, improvements to schools, improvements to healthcare facilities, etc.
Eligibility Requirements 

Projects must meet these criteria to be eligible for an EDP grant:


  • Project must be located within the Neches River Basin or Neches-Trinity Coastal Basin. Preference will be given to projects implemented in Tyler, Hardin, Jefferson and the eastern portions of Chambers and Liberty Counties.
  • Grant Maintenance Term: Capital improvements and/or community enhancement projects must be maintained for its intended purpose and remain accessible to the public for a minimum of ten (10) years.
  • Projects shall meet one or more of the following criteria:

                              Encourage economic diversification; or

                              Maintain or expand employment; or

                              Train persons; or

                              Contribute to the health and development of a community to improve the attractiveness of the                                        community to public and private enterprises; or

                              Improve the quality or quantity of services essential for the development of viable communities                                      and economic growth, including services related to education, transportation, public safety,                                                recreation, health care, training, community planning, or employment.

  • Applicant must own the property on which grant funds are to be invested. Evidence of ownership is to be provided. In the case of a cooperative project on public property, all cooperative entities must sign a Letter of Agreement authorizing the project and agreeing to the improvements and maintenance period. Documentation shall be included in the grant application submittal package.
  • In the event the property is sold, or the applicant(s) can no longer meet the terms of the grant, the applicant(s) understands they may be required to return any unspent grant funds and/or repay all grant funds, depending on the circumstance as deemed appropriate by the LNVA Board of Directors.
  • Grants of $10,000 or more require a minimum twenty percent (20%) cash match of the total project cost. Matching funds must be documented in the application.
  • Grant applications must be signed by the chief administrator or presiding officer of the entity requesting the grant, such as a city manager, executive director, general manager, board president or school superintendent.
  • Grant funds are to be expended within 24-months of the date the EDP grant money is awarded. In the event grant funds are not expended within the 24-month period, applicant may request an extension. Such requests shall be submitted on or before the twenty-third month of the initial grant period. Requests shall be in writing and such extensions shall be limited to an additional 12 months. If funds are not expended in the initial 24-month period, or 36 months if an extension has been granted, the applicant shall forfeit the grant and return the funds, by check, to LNVA. The Board may request additional financial or other information as deemed necessary to satisfy the Board’s confidence of the applicant’s ability to complete the project.
  • All EDP grant recipients over $1,000 shall complete and submit a Project Completion Form to LNVA. Upon receipt, LNVA will schedule and perform a final walk-through with the recipient confirming all funded project components are satisfied. A grant recipient will not be allowed to participate in future grant cycles until the Project Completion Form has been filed by the recipient and accepted as complete by LNVA.
  • The grant recipient shall prominently, and in a manner favorable to LNVA, recognize LNVA as a sponsor of the approved purpose in a manner suitable to the respective works, either by printed or electronic advertisement or promotion, or by displaying in a permanent or semi-permanent manner a sign or banner recognizing the contribution to the finished works by LNVA.
Application Process 

LNVA’s Board of Directors will determine annually if funding is available for EDP grants. In years in which funds are made available, grant applications will be reviewed and awarded on a case by case basis while funding is available. The maximum single EDP grant that may be awarded is $50,000 per grant program year, or $100,000 in the case of water or wastewater infrastructure projects, unless approved otherwise. Additional consideration may be given to those applications whose project include design components aimed specifically at energy efficiency, water conservation and waste reduction.

Successful grant recipients will be notified by the LNVA General Manager, or his designee. An Economic Development Program Contract (“CONTRACT”) will be offered at that time to the recipient. The CONTRACT will fully define the applicant’s objectives and the project deliverables associated with the EDP funds. The CONTRACT will also restate the Terms under which the funds are being made available.

The value of grant applications received may exceed available funding. Eligible applicants who do not receive a grant due to funding limits may reapply during future grant cycles. An applicant must close out the previous grant before being eligible to apply for another grant.

LNVA Economic Development Application