BRA Board works to protect Morris Sheppard Dam future

BRA Board works to protect Morris Sheppard Dam future

The Brazos River Authority Board of Directors at its quarterly board meeting Jan. 27 voted to move into phase II of a project aimed at extending the service life of the Morris Sheppard Dam at Possum Kingdom Lake.

The Board authorized General Manager/CEO David Collinsworth to amend a contract with Gannett Fleming Inc. in an amount not to exceed $964,000, to move a concrete assessment and maintenance project into Phase II engineering services at Morris Sheppard Dam.


Despite its age, the dam is in excellent shape, Collinsworth said. The idea behind the project is to analyze and prioritize the areas of the dam that currently require maintenance and set a schedule for regular maintenance to avoid costly issues in the future, he said. Wear and tear are natural to any structure that age and the BRA has a dedicated team that works daily toward maintaining the 2,700-feet-long and 190-feet-high structure.

The project began in October 2018 with a phased approach. After evaluating various portions of the dam, the firm will develop next steps. Phase I, which cost $535,000, included a comprehensive data review, structural analysis, and risk analysis among other projects. The second phase, approved by the Board at the meeting, includes executing the investigation and testing program defined in Phase I. 

Phase II will take about 18 weeks, and after completion, BRA staff will return to the Board for consideration of Phase III.

This project is in addition to already ongoing maintenance work at the dam, said Mike McClendon, Upper Basin Regional Manager. The BRA has a dedicated team - the Reservoir System Maintenance Unit, or RSMU, that performs daily, monthly, and quarterly inspections and maintenance. Inspections by outside firms are also routinely performed on an annual and five-year schedule. 

Stewart Vaghti, with Gannett Fleming Inc., said his company has reviewed a wide variety of maintenance operations and practices at dams. He said he'd seen dams that appear to have undergone no maintenance. Meanwhile, the BRA and its staff have shown impressive management, dedication and skillset in maintaining the Morris Sheppard Dam, Vaghti said.

The Morris Sheppard Dam is unique in that it was designed and built in the early part of the last century, he said. The standards for design were different at that time, he said. 

“The life of dams is really predicated on the ongoing operation and maintenance,” he said. 


The Board also accepted the BRA’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for fiscal year 2019 and approved its filing with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The Texas Water Code requires the BRA to file the annual audited financial statements issued by an independent auditing firm with the TCEQ. 

The CAFR includes the independent auditor’s reports, management’s discussion and analysis, basic financial statements, notes to the basic financial statements, supplemental information and a statistical section. 

The BRA received an unqualified or “clean” audit opinion.

The completed 2019 CAFR will be included on the BRA’s website – brazos.org – alongside decades of past reports. The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada awarded a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to the BRA for its CAFR for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2018. That was the 33rd consecutive year that the BRA has achieved this prestigious award. This year’s report will also be submitted.

In order to be awarded a Certificate of Achievement, the BRA must publish an easily
readable and efficiently organized CAFR. The report must satisfy both GAAP and applicable legal requirements.

Also at the quarterly meeting, the Board:

  • ratified the 2020 rates for two-tier water contracts of $27.82 per acre-foot for Election Use Water and $13.91 per acre-foot for Option Use Water as adjusted in accordance with the formula stated in the existing Replacement Water Supply Agreements.
  • approved authorizing GM/CEO Collinsworth to enter into an interlocal agreement with Bell County and other local entities to collectively fund and evaluate Aquifer Storage and Recovery in Bell County. The BRA’s portion is not to exceed $15,000. The Bell County Judge’s Office, in coordination with the Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District, is organizing a study effort to evaluate the potential for Aquifer Storage and Recovery. ASR involves the use of wells that are designed to both recharge water into an aquifer during times of plenty and recover the water later when needed using the same wells.
  • approved revisions to the Operations Policies Manual of the BRA as presented. After each legislative session, BRA Staff determines whether the OPM should be revised in light of such laws. Staff has determined that several policies should be updated following the 2019 legislative session.
  • approved the BRA investment policy. The changes to the Investment Policy (last adopted by the Board on January 28, 2019) is recommended by BRA finance staff and BRA investment advisor, Valley View Consulting, L.L.C.
  • authorized to increase the initial contractual not-to-exceed amount by $300,000 for legal services in relation to Allens Creek Reservoir and Texas House Bill 2846.
  • ratified Presiding Officer Flores’s appointment of the following individuals to serve as members of the Retirement Committee: Directors John Henry Luton, Chair; Ford Taylor, Vice-Chair; Jen Henderson; Royce Lesley; and Jeff Tallas.

To view a recording of the full Board meeting here.  The next quarterly board meeting will be April 28. To see a complete list of board actions, go here.  The Board meets quarterly on the last Monday of January, April, July and October.