BRA dams to see upgrades

BRA dams to see upgrades

Each of the three Brazos River Authority dams will receive an upgrade after the Board of Directors recently approved multiple projects.

The Board held its quarterly meeting virtually Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. Several projects were approved to further the service life of the BRA’s three owned and operated reservoirs: Possum Kingdom Lake’s Morris Sheppard Dam, located on the main stem of the Brazos River northwest of Fort Worth; Lake Granbury’s

DeCordova Bend Dam, in Hood County; and Lake Limestone’s Sterling C. Robertson Dam, located on a tributary of the Brazos River, the Navasota River, in Limestone, Robertson and Leon counties. 

Photo of DeCordova Bend Dam from a plane. Photo courtesy of Steven Vale
Photo of DeCordova Bend Dam courtesy of Steven Vale

The projects are a continuation of ongoing and regular maintenance and repairs existing at the reservoir as the BRA is dedicated to maintaining the structural integrity of its dams and prolonging the life of these critical structures.

“Maintaining our dam structure and keeping the maintenance on those properties are upmost a priority and critical to the BRA,” Presiding Officer Director Cynthia A. Flores said.

These projects will help ensure the BRA can continue to successfully manage its water resources within the basin.

Funding was approved for the first phase of a project to extend the life of a portion of Lake Limestone’s Sterling C. Robertson Dam. 

All evaluations of the dam itself have reported that the structure is functioning properly and is in good condition for its age, said Brad Brunett, central and lower basin regional manager. However, this three-phase project will help ensure the 42-year-old dam lives at least another 40 years, Brunett said.

The Sterling C. Robertson Dam has hydrostatic pressure relief systems within the service spillway and the earthen embankment portions of the dam to provide drainage, control hydrostatic pressures, and improve stability. The Board authorized BRA General Manager/CEO David Collinsworth to execute a contract with Stantec Consulting Services for engineering services associated with the assessment, subsequent design and bidding, and resulting construction activities for the project.

Another project approved during the meeting that, when complete, will allow the BRA to test or maintain Possum Kingdom Lake’s Morris Sheppard Dam gates during periods of low reservoir elevations

“It’s like the weightlifter trying to get the last rep out, and the spotter just provides an extra boost. That’s kind of what this is,” said Michael McClendon, BRA upper basin regional manager.

The project will focus on the piping that, when needed, will force pressurized water into a gate chamber to raise the gate during low lake elevations. The process is necessary only when testing the gates or when the lake level is below elevation 995 mean sea level. This project will also ensure the BRA can retain the ability to provide water to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department fish hatchery for their operations. The Board approved a $762,000 contract be executed with KCI Technologies, Inc. to provide engineering services for the work.

The BRA will perform a more in-depth evaluation of embankment retaining walls at Lake Granbury’s DeCordova Bend Dam.  The Board authorized GM/CEO Collinsworth to negotiate and execute a $735,000 contract with Walter P. Moore to perform engineering services in evaluating the durability of these structural components. Upper Basin Regional Manager McClendon said the structure poses no safety issues, and this process will help extend the life of the dam, which was completed in 1969. 

Possum Kingdom Lake courtesy of Deborah Lackey Smith
Possum Kingdom Lake courtesy of Deborah Lackey Smith

Following the safety guidelines outlined by Governor Greg Abbott, the Board and BRA staff met via Microsoft Teams. The Board meetings, which are quarterly on the last Monday of January, April, July and October, are streamed live on the BRA YouTube channel.

Also at the quarterly meeting, the Board:

•    authorized phase two of the Aqua Strategies, Inc. contract for support for environmental flow initiatives related to the System Operation Permit and water management plan.

•    approved allowing up to 76,181 acre-feet of Interruptible Water be made available in calendar year 2021.

•    designated Susan Trammell as the BRA’s records management officer.

•    authorized the GM/CEO to execute a contract for investment advisory services with Valley View Consulting, LLC, for a two-year period with the option of two extensions for a total of six years. 

•    approved the acceptance of electronic submissions of solicitation submittals, pursuant to the authority granted by Chapter 49 of the Texas Government Code.

•    approved all agreements necessary to continue the relationship with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas for a fully insured medical plan

•    designated Wells Fargo Bank, NA, as a depository for the BRA.

•    authorized GM/CEO Collinsworth to allow a trade-in of the Seal Analytical AQ2 Discrete Analyzer toward the purchase of replacement equipment, and 

•    approved updates to its Human Resources Policy Manual as presented at the meeting to be effective Nov. 1, 2020.

The next board meeting will be Jan. 25, 2021. To see a full list of board actions, go here.