The Brazos River Authority Board of Directors approved two big projects to help supply water to the growing population in Williamson County.
The Board, during its bimonthly May meeting, authorized a $3.4 million contract with CDM Smith, Inc. for activities associated with the construction of infrastructure needed to begin supplying treated water from the Trinity Aquifer groundwater well at the East Williamson County Regional Water System. The BRA owns and operates the East Williamson County Regional Water System adjacent to Lake Granger, currently serving the city of Taylor, Jonah Water Special Utility District, and other customers in Williamson County.
The existing groundwater well in the Trinity aquifer can produce 4 million gallons per day of water to augment the surface water supply available from Granger Lake. Due to the ongoing growth in Williamson County, incorporation of this new water source is needed to provide additional treated water to the area during times of peak demands, said Brad Brunett, BRA central and lower basin regional manager,
Once that project is complete, pipelines will be needed to move the treated water to its destination.
The BRA currently has one pipeline in use since 1990. Though it remains usable, the 27-inch line does not have the capacity to move the additional water, Brunett said. Additionally, the pipeline is the only dedicated means of delivering treated water to the city of Taylor, Jonah Water Special Utility District and Lone Star Regional Water Authority.
To address this, the Board authorized a more than $3 million professional services contract with CDM Smith, Inc. for all activities associated with the permitting, engineering, design, property acquisition, and construction oversight for the construction of a second water supply pipeline.
The current 3.7-mile pipeline has a maximum capacity of 15 million gallons per day. This second pipeline will be 48 inches in width with a maximum capacity of 35 million gallons per day. The additional line will expand the treated water delivery capacity of the pipelines to at least 50 million gallons per day. Future treatment plant expansions will ultimately be needed to maximize the capacity of the new treated water pipeline, Brunett said.
Upon completion of the new 48" line, the existing 27" line will become a dedicated line to supply the city of Taylor, while Jonah Water SUD and Lone Star RWA will utilize the new 48" pipeline. Interconnections between the lines will be included to provide redundancy for all customers.
The BRA Board of Directors also approved several contracts during their May meeting.
- The Board authorized GM/CEO David Collinsworth to execute a contract for more than $950,000 with Schnabel Engineering, LLC for engineering services required to complete annual and five-year inspections for the Lake Granbury DeCordova Bend Dam. The inspections are required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said Blake Kettler, BRA technical services manager.
"The extra set of eyes are welcome from an audit perspective to make sure we're doing things properly at the dam," Kettler said.
The term of the contract is five years.
- The Board authorized GM/CEO Collinsworth to execute a new five-year, cost-reimbursable agreement with the city of Hutto for the continued operation and maintenance of both the Hutto Central and Hutto South Wastewater Treatment Plants.
The BRA has operated and maintained the city's wastewater treatment plants since 1998. The plants are currently staffed with three BRA employees, Brunett said.
- The Board authorized GM/CEO Collinsworth to execute a new five-year, cost-reimbursable agreement with the city of Leander for the continued operation and maintenance of the Sandy Creek Water Treatment Plant.
The BRA has operated and maintained the city's water treatment plant since 1998. The plant is in Travis County and staffed with five BRA employees, Brunett said.
- Within the next 30 days, the Palo Pinto County Sheriff's Office will begin providing law enforcement services at Possum Kingdom Lake. The Board authorized an interlocal agreement with the County that will replace existing law enforcement at the reservoir.
The move comes as a result of difficulty filling lake ranger positions at the reservoir. Though Possum Kingdom Lake has the budget for five lake rangers positions, three have remained unfilled open due to staffing difficulties. This new proposed agreement is modeled after ventures by other river authorities, water districts and similar organizations, said Mike McClendon, BRA upper basin regional manager. The move will eliminate duplication of efforts and costs, while better facilitating the coordination of resources and response to multi-jurisdictional incidents.
This is not only fiscally prudent, McClendon said, but there is a benefit to having one primary law enforcement agency in the area that provides the same or greater level of service. The response time to incidents on the water will be equal to that of having BRA lake rangers respond, McClendon said.
Environmental Lab expansion
Also during the meeting, the Board heard a presentation from Mr. Collinsworth regarding the expansion of the BRA's laboratory, which will provide better, extended services to the Texas Clean Rivers Program.
The Texas Clean Rivers Act came online in 1991 mandating partnerships between the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and river authorities for the monitoring and managing of water quality issues, Collinsworth said.
Since 1994, the BRA's environmental services department has monitored water quality and collected aquatic insects and fish to determine stream health, Collinsworth said. The BRA works alongside multiple other agencies to prevent the duplication of resources and to maximize efforts, Collinsworth said.
The current lab, located in the BRA's Central Office in Waco, was constructed in 2001-2002 and now has insufficient space, he said. The new 10,880-square-foot lab – with room for future growth – will feature enclosed storage for boats, covered storage for trucks, a climate-controlled workshop, and a sediment analysis laboratory. Roughly 90% of the design of the $9.8 million expansion is complete. The team hopes to see the start of construction this winter.
For a complete list of Board actions from the meeting, go here. Or watch the full board meeting here. Sign up to receive email Board meeting notices here.
Learn more and take the opportunity to ask questions of BRA management at the BRA's virtual town hall meeting, the Brown Bag on the Brazos. Scheduled for noon, Thursday, June 1, 2023, topics planned for the upcoming bi-monthly meeting include the law enforcement transition at Possum Kingdom Lake and reservoir levels/drought conditions for the summer months.
In the meantime, for updates on BRA projects, go here. For information on the current drought situation, see our drought update videos here.
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