At its July regular bimonthly meeting, the Brazos River Authority Board of Directors approved the upcoming fiscal year budget, the strategic plan, and financing agreements for the proposed Allens Creek Reservoir project.
Photo submitted by Steven Loesch
The BRA uses the state fiscal year, which begins September 1 and ends August 31.
The BRA continues to manage the explosive growth throughout the basin, said General Manager/CEO David Collinsworth in the budget documents.
"This includes not only residential growth but also, at times, unexpected industrial growth," he wrote. "To add complexity to an already difficult situation, some of this growth is occurring in areas of our basin where substantial increases in population and demand were never anticipated. These challenges affirm our overall organizational focus on water supply development, infrastructure maintenance, and environmental stewardship. We must be on the forefront of creating the next major water supplies for the Brazos basin while at the same time ensuring the water we already have continues to be available and usable for years into the future."
The budget includes:
- $83.9 million for operating expenditures and $45.9 million for capital improvement projects.
- Total operating revenue of $91.8 million.
- A System Water Rate increase of 6.3% to $93.50 per acre-foot.
- A net increase of seven full-time positions and two part-time positions.
The fiscal year 2024 budget includes funding for several projects focusing on the use of existing water supplies. One of these is the proposed pipeline project from Lake Belton to Lake Stillhouse Hollow - the Belhouse Drought Preparedness project - which will help meet the growing demand for water in the Bell and Williamson County areas. Preliminary engineering work on this project is completed, and engineering design and permitting work are expected to be underway in the upcoming fiscal year. Learn more about that project here.
Another project included in the approved budget is the expansion of pumping capacity for the Williamson County Regional Raw Water Line, which is needed to meet the growing water supply demands from Lake Georgetown. Engineering work for this effort began in 2022 and will continue in 2024. Learn more about that project here.
During the meeting, additional financing was secured for Allens Creek Reservoir.
The BRA Board agreed to accept the terms of a loan from the Texas Water Development Board for $50 million to finance the proposed off-channel reservoir in the lower Brazos basin. Using the development board financing of $33.2 million in a low-interest loan and $16.3 million in a deferred loan is estimated to save the BRA about $10.3 million in interest over a similar open market borrowing.
Allens Creek Reservoir was initially structured as a joint project between the BRA and the city of Houston. For the past several years, the reservoir project has been on hold. However, due to the increasing need for water supply in the Brazos River basin, the BRA purchased full rights to the reservoir from the city of Houston and the Texas Water Development Board in early May 2022. Now as sole owner, in fiscal year 2023, the BRA initiated preliminary permitting and initial design. Through the upcoming fiscal year, staff will continue to work toward developing the reservoir project. The permitting, design, and construction of the Allens Creek Reservoir project could take a decade or more to complete. Learn more about the project here.
Also during the meeting, the Board held a ceremony to rename the BRA's Central Office in Waco the Lt. Gen. Phillip J. Ford Central Office Facilities, in honor former general manager. Read more about that here.
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, August 10, 2023, topics include the renaming of the Waco Central Office, the latest on the drought, and the Belhouse Drought Preparedness Project.
Meanwhile, see our biweekly drought update videos here.
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