The Brazos River Authority Board of Directors, at its September meeting, propelled the organization forward with the approval of multiple items, such as dam gate improvements, erosion control, updated bylaws, and a determination of the upcoming year's interruptible water availability.
Protecting the Future
One big project on the horizon will improve the operational life of Possum Kingdom Lake's Morris Sheppard Dam, the BRA's oldest reservoir.
The Board approved moving forward on a $1.4 million contract with Gannett Fleming Inc. for engineering services to replace several components associated with raising and lowering the nine spillway gates. Many of the existing parts of the dam's gates are two-to-three decades old and beyond, said Michael McClendon, the BRA's upper basin regional manager. Overall, the project will bring the system up to date, improve reliability, reduce maintenance, and reduce susceptibility to zebra mussels, as the material is less vulnerable to the invasive species, McClendon said.
Design will take about a year to complete, and construction should begin this time next year, he said. BRA's Reservoir System Maintenance Unit, called RSMU, will handle the construction portion. McClendon said the crew's quality of workmanship is unmatched by any contractor. The cost savings of using the crew is tremendous, he said.
"Our RSMU group performing these services will save us millions of dollars in the long run," he said.
With the prevention of the invasive zebra mussels vital to water supply infrastructure, the Board recommended a five-year partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The project will help educate the public about invasive species in the Brazos River basin and the devastating threat they pose to our state's aquatic ecosystems, private property, and water-related infrastructure, such as water supply systems. The BRA will contribute $10,000 annually for the next five years, as it has done for the past eight.
Those who live adjacent to Texas' waterways are no stranger to the difficulty of erosion. The BRA is no exception. The BRA owns and operates a water intake and pump station at Lake Granger that supplies raw water for the East Williamson County Regional Water System. The erosion has been exacerbated by periodic, high water levels since 2015, said Brad Brunett, central and lower basin regional manager. Water levels have reached five to 10 feet above normal lake levels quite a few times, and at one time, was 15 feet above normal levels, Brunett said. The longer water levels stay that high, the more banks are saturated, and the wind and waves worsen the erosion, he said.
The Board approved roughly $360,600 to mitigate the current situation by stabilizing the shoreline and slope and preventing further erosion by hard arming the slope to protect the building.
Lake Granger raw water pump station
Also at the meeting, the Board determined the amount of interruptible water available for 2022. The recommended amount available for 2022 is 78,680 acre-feet, said Aaron Abel, BRA water services manager. Interruptible water is water available for contract for a specific period based on the amount of water in reservoir storage, Abel said.
"In dry years, firm use is higher, and that decreases the amount of interruptible water available," Abel said.
Typically, those in the agriculture and mining industries contract for the water as a backup supply, he said. Most years, the majority of interruptible water isn't used, Abel said.
For a complete list of board actions from the meeting, go here. Or watch the board meeting here. Due to technical difficulties, the first few minutes of the meetings' recording do not include sound. A synopsis of this period is included with the video minutes.
The next board meeting will be Nov. 15, 2021. Sign up for board meeting notices here.