Studying species

Studying species

The Brazos River Authority was the first river authority to execute a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and now that plan will be further improved.

The plan was presented to the Board of Directors at their regular meeting on Jan. 31, 2022. 

There are 1,207 species currently listed on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s rare, threatened and endangered species database and USFWS’s threatened and endangered animals and plant lists

Aquatic scientists reviewing data

So how do you track all those species day-in and day-out to ensure they don’t present complications to necessary water supply while still protecting them? The answer is to create an evaluation methodology and then monitor the species that could have a likelihood of impact, said Tiffany Malzahn, BRA environmental and compliance manager. Once those species are identified, staff can recommend appropriate responses, such as further monitoring, a special study, or additions to the Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances. 

The CCAA solidifies a voluntary partnership between the BRA and the USFWS to address the conservation needs of two Brazos basin species of freshwater mussels listed for Endangered Species Act protection. The Texas fawnsfoot, Truncilla macrodon, and the Balcones Spike, Fusconaia iheringi, are currently listed with critical habitat established in the Brazos River basin.

After a review of the 1,207 species, three ranked high enough for review, Malzahn said. Two were freshwater mussels already covered in the Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances. The other is the Brazos Water Snake or Nerodia harteri. Malzahn will bring a recommended plan before the Board at a future meeting focused on the snake.

Having a scientific methodology in place can help the Board and the BRA determine how much time and effort is dedicated to developing data on one species within the Brazos River basin. The BRA’s environmental services department regularly monitors different fish and wildlife species as a means of tracking the health of the Brazos River basin ecosystem.

BRA General Manager/CEO David Collinsworth said if we don’t have the science, we don’t have the data, and we can’t argue and fight for our water or the snake because the data doesn’t exist.

“The way the world turns right now, if the science isn’t collected to help justify whether we need to go left or we need to go right, then we’re going to find ourselves in a position of not being able to fight for our water supply whether the way the movement is going is right or wrong,” Collinsworth said.

Also at the meeting, the Board authorized Collinsworth to execute a $130,000 fiscal year 2022 budget adjustment to the Lake Granbury reinforced concrete components capital improvement project. The project is a more in-depth evaluation of embankment retaining walls at Lake Granbury’s DeCordova Bend Dam, work that helps extend the life of the dam, which was completed in 1969. The engineering consultant, Walter P. Moore, performed work quicker than anticipated, so money expected to be spent the following year on the project needed to be moved. The Board likely will receive a final report on the project in March.

General Manager/CEO David Collinsworth, Davy Moore, and BRA Presiding Officer Cynthia A. Flores
General Manager/CEO David Collinsworth, Davy Moore, and BRA Presiding Officer Cynthia A. Flores
John Dickson
John Dickson

During the meeting, Collinsworth took a moment to recognize the dedication of a 46-year employee with the Brazos River Authority.

Davy Moore retired Jan. 31, 2022, as the Lake Limestone reservoir manager. Moore, obviously, started when he was four, Collinsworth said with a laugh. Collinsworth said it’s not often he brings a retiring employee before the Board, but Moore is full of honor and integrity and has dedicated a significant amount of time to the organization. He said he sleeps well knowing Moore has mentored so many within the organization. 

“Davy is one of those reasons that the BRA is first class,” he said.

John Dickson, BRA property and land administrator, was named the next reservoir manager for Lake Limestone. He began in the new role Feb. 1, 2022.

Collinsworth said the next few Board meetings will be busy. In March, BRA staff will present proposed changes to the three reservoir’s rules and regulations. And in May, the Board will be presented with the proposed 2023 budget and strategic plan for review.

The last time the rules and regulations had major revisions for Possum Kingdom Lake and lakes Granbury and Limestone was 2014. After the Board reviews the recommendations, the public will have 30 days to submit any comments regarding the proposal before a final draft is brought back before the Board.

The remaining 2022 Board meeting dates are:

•    March 28, 2022
•    May 23, 2022
•    July 25, 2022
•    Sept. 26, 2022
•    Nov. 14, 2022

Sign up for email board meeting notices here.

Collinsworth will present meeting highlights, among other information, during the next virtual public meeting Feb. 10, 2022. The hourlong Brown Bag on the Brazos allows the public the opportunity to ask questions of BRA management.

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

Still have questions? Email information@brazos.org.