Lake regulations up for review

Lake regulations up for review

Some of the regulations are changing at the Brazos River Authority’s three reservoirs, and the public is welcome to comment on those before the final adoption.

Lake Granbury sunset
Photo courtesy of April Witt

The public has 30 days, or until April 30, 2022, to submit comments on the draft changes presented to the BRA Board of Directors on March 28. The changes would affect all three BRA reservoirs: Possum Kingdom Lake, Lake Limestone and Lake Granbury. Among other Board actions, approval was given for a $19.4 million improvement project to Lake Limestone’s Sterling C. Robertson Dam. The project will replace the dam’s five gates to extend the service life of the dam in Leon and Robertson counties.

Lake Rules & Regulations

BRA staff presented proposed changes to regulations for its three water supply reservoirs and associated lands to the Board for review. Changes range from simply moving paragraphs around, adding new permits, and requiring additional safety precautions.

Now that the Board has reviewed the initial proposal, the public will have 30 days, or until April 30, 2022, to submit comments on the proposed changes to the regulations that affect BRA-owned reservoirs and associated lands, said Riley Woods, BRA senior staff counsel. After the public comment period, BRA staff will evaluate all submitted remarks and revise the proposed rules as determined necessary. The revised document will then be presented to the Board for adoption consideration.

“We’re trying to be very transparent, and we’re trying to involve the public as much as possible,” Woods said.

Two weeks after adoption, Woods said the new regulations will go into effect.

The last time revisions were made to the document was 2014.

One of the most significant changes proposed in the regulations is the establishment of a permitting process for commercial activities. With that, commercial activities involving wakeboarding, parasailing, and food preparation or cleanup on the water would be prohibited.
Woods said the review was prompted last year by members of the public who expressed concern about how the BRA issues commercial permits.

In the interim, the BRA will not consider new commercial on-water facility permits or amendments/modifications/revisions to existing commercial on-water facility permits until the revised regulations are adopted.

Some of the other proposed revisions include:

  • A new requirement that commercial facilities maintain equipment to contain spills.
  • Changing how long guests can camp at public use areas.
  • New provisions related to the protection of archeological and historical features.
  • Increasing at what distance watercraft must operate at a No Wake speed from 50 feet to 100 feet.
  • Requiring a fairway distance between two commercial facilities of at least 1.5 times the length of the longest boat slip located at the facilities.
  • No operation of drones over restricted areas.
  • No placing of tramway systems over the water.

To see the complete list of proposed changes and to provide a comment, go to www.brazos.org/rules-regs.

Lake Limestone Tainter Gate project    

Lake Limestone dam

Progress continues on extending the life of the Sterling C. Robertson Dam at Lake Limestone.

During the meeting, the Board authorized an almost $19.5 million contract with McMillen Jacobs Associates for construction services to complete the replacement and improvement of the dam’s five gates.

Sterling C. Robertson Dam, which became operational in 1978, is at the south end of the Lake Limestone water supply reservoir on the Navasota River. The dam has five Tainter gates, which along with the hoist systems, play a critical component in allowing for the passage of water through the dam. Each gate is about 40 feet wide and 29 feet high. The project resulted from engineering inspections, which identified the need to replace the gates due to deterioration over time, said Brad Brunett, BRA central and lower basin regional manager. Replacement of the gates and other rehabilitation work will help ensure the structure’s longevity. The total project budget is estimated at $26.8 million.

Property Master Plan

Blake Kettler, BRA technical services manager, gave an informational presentation to the Property Management Committee, which met prior to the full Board meeting.

The BRA recently began an initiative to evaluate all BRA-owned properties from the southern end of the basin to north of Possum Kingdom Lake. This multi-year undertaking will result in a comprehensive database of property information to allow staff to expedite inquiries on property-related issues in real-time and from any location, all from one database, Kettler said. Previously, details on different aspects of properties – from easements to right-of-ways to boundaries – would all be in various areas. In putting together the database, BRA staff found there is far more information than expected, he said. The process has been like peeling back an onion, he said. Every time one layer is removed, another layer is discovered. But the wealth of information only creates a more robust system, Kettler said.

David Collinsworth, BRA General Manager/CEO, said the database will be a wonderful tool for future planning purposes.

With the database near completion, Collinsworth said that BRA staff will move to the next stage of the Property Master Plan and present “low hanging fruit” to the committee for divestiture consideration. The BRA has smaller parcels of land – like floodplain properties, and land that separates landowners from waterbodies – that staff is confident the BRA won’t need in the future and can be divested of, Collinsworth said. Those properties will soon be presented to the committee.

To Learn More

The currently scheduled remaining 2022 Board meeting dates are:

  • May 23, 2022
  • July 25, 2022
  • September 26, 2022
  • November 14, 2022

Sign up for email board meeting notices here.

Collinsworth will present meeting highlights, among other information, during the next virtual public meeting April 7, 2022. The hourlong Brown Bag on the Brazos provides 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.