At its July 26, 2021 meeting, the Brazos River Authority Board of Directors approved the upcoming fiscal year budget and multi-year capital improvement plan, which are customer-focused and aggressive in developing water and water treatment solutions throughout the basin.
The Board approved the presented plans, which included roughly $74.5 million in operating expenses and $78.5 million in revenue. The approval included roughly $65.4 million in capital improvement projects, of which about $40 million will be directed toward the proposed Allens Creek Reservoir project, said BRA Chief Financial Officer David Thompson.
The Board also approved a System Water and Interruptible Water Rate paid by BRA contract holders of $83 per acre-foot and an Agricultural Water Rate of $58.10 per acre-foot.
The budget includes the addition of nine full-time positions and a reduction of three part-time jobs.
The 21-member Board also approved projects to help secure the future water needs of the basin.
The Board authorized General Manager/CEO David Collinsworth to execute a professional services agreement with Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. for about $1.4 million to develop phase 1 of the Integrated Water Resource Plan. Internal analyses, regional water plans, and requests from current and potential customers indicate that additional water supplies are needed to meet future demands in the Brazos River basin.
“I think the No. 1 responsibility for an organization like the BRA is to make sure we’re doing all we can from a planning perspective to understand what our options are moving forward,” Collinsworth said.
This plan will provide a guide for the development of additional water supply resources and a framework for water supply project evaluation and prioritization. The project will include three phases, each lasting about 18 months. This first phase will focus on the Little River Watershed. Bell and Williamson Counties are each expected to experience significant population growth over the next 50 years, with water shortages beginning to occur within the next 10 years.
“I don’t worry about our challenges because our staff is so absolutely amazing,” Collinsworth said.
During the meeting, the Board also heard a report on the recent review by the Texas Sunset Commission.
BRA staff is working to implement each of the legislative and management recommendations from the recently completed Sunset Commission report, said Matt Phillips, BRA legislative and governmental affairs manager.
The Texas Sunset Act requires the Sunset Commission to periodically review the BRA and then recommend whether to change state law to improve the authority’s efficiency and effectiveness.
Phillips said the Sunset process is not designed to tell an agency what they do well; but where they can improve. The review process lasted from June 2020 through January 2021 and concluded with the produced report containing minimal findings and recommendations, Phillips said.
One of those recommendations will result in a new portion of the BRA’s website – brazos.org – currently under construction, which will detail the various BRA projects across the basin and update as projects progress, Phillips said. This site will give the public a more visual way to navigate through various projects and read about their ongoing work, including descriptions, project status and budget, schedules and more.
The BRA will be up for review by the Sunset Commission again in 2032.
Also at the quarterly meeting, the Board:
• adopted the BRA’s strategic plan, including the mission statement, guiding principles, goals, objectives and strategies.
• authorized continuing the partnership with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for water quality monitoring services under the Texas Clean Rivers Program. The Texas Clean Rivers Program was created in 1991 by the state legislature and intends to move Texas toward comprehensive water quality planning and management to ensure the state has a safe, clean water supply for the future. The BRA has partnered with this program since 1992. TCEQ will provide a minimum of $796,318 to the BRA to perform the requirements of the CRP in the Brazos River basin under the two-year contract.
• approved another one-year extension of existing agreements with the cities of Clute and Richwood to operate and maintain the Clute-Richwood Regional Sewerage System. The BRA has operated and maintained the system since 2000.
• approved a more than $2.6 million contract with CDM Smith, Inc. for engineering services associated with improvements and expanded components of the East Williamson County Regional Water System, to integrate the existing groundwater well, and to make recommendations on the construction and use of future groundwater wells. The East Williamson County Regional Water System supplies drinking water to the city of Taylor, Jonah Water Special Utility District and Lone Star Regional Water Authority. Expansion of the existing system is needed due to increasing customer demands in Williamson County, where is expected to surpass production capability within the next three to five years, said Brad Brunett, BRA Central & Lower Basin Regional Manager. The historic annual peak demand in million gallons per day demonstrates a steady increase over the past decade, and that trend is expected to continue, Brunett said. Brunett said the current plant treatment capacity is 12.3 million gallons per day, and customer demand is expected to exceed the plant capacity as early as 2024.
The next board meeting will be Sept. 27, 2021. To see a complete list of Board actions, go here.