The Brazos River Authority Board of Directors had a longer-than-usual quarterly meeting Monday, but proved successful under the leadership of newly appointed Presiding Office Cynthia Flores. Flores, of Round Rock, has served on the Board since 2015 and was appointed to the position of Presiding Officer by Gov. Greg Abbott in February.
During the meeting, the Board approved negotiating a roughly $2.6 million professional services agreement with the engineering firm Walker Partners, LLC for phase 1 of the “Bell-House” Pipeline. The project will link Lake Belton to Lake Stillhouse Hollow via a pipeline and pump system, making additional water available via the existing Williamson County Regional Raw Water Line to Lake Georgetown. The project will also serve as a water supply to Georgetown and Round Rock.
Marking a milestone in another long-term project, the Board authorized the BRA to enter into additional water contracts.
The BRA applied to the state for the System Operation Permit in 2003. While the permit was originally expected to be approved in four years, it was finally completed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in 2018. The Board’s decision allows the BRA to make 106,031 acre-feet per year available to those on the waiting list. The additional annual revenue generated will allow help provide funding for other water supply projects
The meeting also marked a new award program created by General Manager/CEO David Collinsworth.
The inaugural “Heart of the Brazos River Authority” award was presented to Lake Granbury Lake Ranger Kyle Lewis, a real-life hero, for actions taken on, and off, the clock. Collinsworth said he looks forward over the coming years to have the chance to recognize additional outstanding BRA employees with the Heart of the BRA Award.
The Board backed a staff recommendation for a resolution sharing the BRA’s grave concerns regarding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed Water Supply Rule. In order to protect Texas’ sovereignty over its state-owned water and the rights granted to the BRA, it is imperative the Corps withdraw its proposed Water Supply Rule. Through this resolution, the BRA is asking the Corps to engage in meaningful consultation with the states to develop a new proposal.
The Board also approved the five-year Drought Contingency Plan that staff updated in compliance with TCEQ requirements. The plan establishes new trigger levels, incorporates the East Williamson County Regional Water System DCP, references seasonal forecasts from the TWSDB as a drought-monitoring tool and clarifies pro-rata curtailment language. The Water Conservation Plan update also was approved by the Board; however, no significant changes were made to this five-year document.
In another new venture, the Board voted to provide funding for a partnership with the Texas Water Development Board and the Lower Colorado River Authority to help further develop the understanding of the hydrology between groundwater and surface water systems.
The Board also voted to extend BRA’s contract with TCEQ for the Texas Clean Rivers Program. The move will include up to almost $1.2 million allowing BRA employees to perform water quality monitoring services under the program. The program will allow BRA environmental teams to provide quality-assured water quality data to the TCEQ for use in decision-making, identify and evaluate water quality issues, promote cooperative watershed planning and maintain efficient use of public funds among other efforts.
A listing of surplus property for equipment no longer needed can be put up for auction after Board approval. Anyone interested in purchasing BRA surplus items may watch for a notice in the next few weeks for the dates, time and items that will be available.
The Board also received a preliminary look into the fiscal year 2020 budget, which will be presented for approval at July’s quarterly Board meeting.
The governing board of the Brazos River Authority consists of 21 members appointed by the governor and subject to confirmation by the Texas Senate. The Board meets quarterly on the last Monday of January, April, July and October. Audio minutes of each meeting are available here.
To see a full list of Board actions, go here.