Urban growth and sprawl can be tracked in Texas by mapping the sequential creation of MUDs, Municipal Utility Districts. As shown in the accompanying animation, Houston’s pattern of MUD authorization provides a good example.
MUDs give developers in the state the right to issue tax-exempt bonds (a major cost savings) to help finance infrastructure for large new construction projects. These bonds for the flood control, sewage and drinking water work are later paid back by future residents and business owners who buy into the developments.
Texas statutes also grant these districts powerful eminent domain rights of condemnation to access underground utilities, as well as other services, that can help support and accelerate private developments.
Galvan, Sara. 2007. “Wrestling with MUDs to Pin Down the Truth about Special Districts.” 75 Fordham Law Review 3041.
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. 2015. TCEQ Water Districts, Download TCEQ GIS Data.
Texas Legislative Council. 2012. Eminent Domain Authority in Texas.
Texas Water Code, Title 4, Section 54, “Municipal Utility Districts”.