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Board partners in habitat conservation program, dam upgrades

Board partners in habitat conservation program, dam upgrades

The Brazos River Authority will join Bell County and other entities in creating the Karst Coalition to collectively develop and fund a regional habitat conservation plan in Bell and Coryell counties.

The move comes after the Board of Directors, in its regular bi-monthly meeting Nov. 14, approved an interlocal agreement with Bell County and other local entities.

Habitat Conservation

In early 2021, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service issued a report identifying the possible habitat of endangered karst invertebrates in Bell County. In response, Bell County is leading a joint regional coalition to develop a habitat conservation plan for the area, said Brad Brunett, BRA
central and lower basin regional manager. The coalition intends to apply for a $1 million grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to fund the plan. A 25% local match is required of the grant, and as part of the interlocal agreement, the BRA agreed to contribute $35,000.

Currently, 12 entities are expected to participate financially in the study, including the BRA, Bell and Coryell counties, Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District, Middle Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, and the cities of Gatesville, Copperas Cove, Killeen, Harker Heights, Belton, Temple, and the Village of Salado. That list could change as things are finalized, Brunett said.

Water Line Upgrades

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Also, at the meeting, the Board approved a $1.9 million contract with CDM Smith, Inc. for engineering services to conduct a condition assessment of the Williamson County Regional Raw Water Line and make recommendations for expanding the pumping capacity at the intake structure.

The BRA operates the waterline, which delivers raw water from Lake Stillhouse Hollow to Lake Georgetown for use by three Williamson County customers: the cities of Georgetown and Round Rock and Brushy Creek Municipal Utility District. The overall goal for this project is to evaluate the WCRRWL system and make recommendations for repairs, improvements, and expanded pumping capacity to ensure that the BRA can continue to meet customer water demands into the future, Brunett said.

“The pipeline is absolutely critical to their water supply,” Brunett said. “Years ago, when they were small, Lake Georgetown was sufficient to take care of all their needs. But as growth has occurred through the years, right now, those three customers use three to four times the firm yield that Lake Georgetown can provide. When we have really wet years, Lake Georgetown is enough. And many times, we don’t need to operate the pump station in the pipelines. But for reliability year in and year out, they have to have this pipeline, and when it’s dry, it has to be operating.”

Dams and Property

The Board approved a roughly $2 million contract with Marine Diving Solutions, LLC for construction services related to the low flow facilities at Lake Granbury’s DeCordova Bend Dam, one of the three BRA-owned and operated reservoirs. The project at the North Texas reservoir will allow for operational flexibility to pass flows for environmental purposes and allow use of the smaller gates during heightened flows as opposed to the larger tainter gates, said Mike McClendon, upper basin regional manager.

On a broader scale, the Board also discussed plans for BRA properties throughout the Brazos River basin. 

Prior to the full Board meeting, the Property Management Committee met and discussed phase 1 of the BRA’s property master plan. 

In January 2021, the BRA hired Halff Associates, LLC to perform consulting services for this first phase. This first phase includes accumulating data on each BRA-owned property to develop an extensive property management database and interface. The overall project is expected to span several years and will include the development of a comprehensive plan for managing or divesting those properties in the future.

The plan will help the BRA plan for the future, said Blake Kettler, BRA technical services manager. From 1929 to today, the BRA has acquired a great deal of property information, Kettler said. The development of this database will bring together data sets from varying entities into one location, he said. An outline of Phase 2 is expected to be presented to the Board at the January meeting, Kettler said

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W. Wintford Taylor, III
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Rick Huber

In other business, the Board voted to select Director Rick Huber of Granbury to serve as the Board of Directors’ assistant presiding officer and designated Director W. Wintford “Ford” Taylor, III., of Waco, to keep his seat as secretary. Each will serve for two years or until a successor is selected.

You can now mark your calendars as the Board adopted the following meeting dates for 2022:

•    January 31, 2022
•    March 28, 2022
•    May 23, 2022
•    July 25, 2022
•    September 26, 2022
•    November 14, 2022

For a complete list of board actions from the meeting, go here. Or watch the full board meeting here.

The next board meeting is January 31, 2022. Sign up for board meeting notices here.

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