Dear Allens Creek-Area Resident:
As you may have heard, the Brazos River Authority (BRA) is moving forward with the proposed Allens Creek Reservoir project in Austin County. I am sending you this letter so you can understand exactly what the BRA is proposing to accomplish in the years to come.
First, some background on the Allens Creek Reservoir.
The Allens Creek Reservoir is a proposed off-channel reservoir on Allens Creek, a tributary of the Brazos River located near the City of Wallis in Austin County. This reservoir was originally permitted by Houston Lighting and Power (HL&P) in 1974 to provide cooling water for a proposed nuclear power plant. The power plant was not built and eventually HL&P allowed the water right permit for the reservoir to expire. Subsequently, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1593 instructing the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to grant a water right for Allens Creek Reservoir to the BRA, the City of Houston, and the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB).
The BRA and the City of Houston acquired the 9,500-acre Allens Creek Reservoir site from Reliant Energy. The resulting joint project between the BRA, City of Houston, and the TWDB allows the sharing of cost and reservoir yield on a 30 percent BRA and 70 percent Houston basis. The BRA is in charge of building and operating the reservoir.
Once constructed, Allens Creek Reservoir will be used to meet anticipated growth in demand for surface water in the Lower Brazos basin due to projected population increases. The reservoir will also help satisfy regulatory requirements to reduce groundwater pumping, which contributes to subsidence in the Houston area.
Next, let me tell you how the lake will be operated.
Because Allens Creek Reservoir is an off-channel reservoir, it will not be located directly on the Brazos River. Instead, water will be pumped from the Brazos River into Allens Creek Reservoir during periods of high flow and then released back into the river to meet downstream water needs during low flows. The reservoir will provide approximately 100,000 acre-feet of water per year and is projected to cost $300 million.
The important thing to remember is that Allens Creek Reservoir will be first and foremost a water supply reservoir. The BRA does anticipate that the reservoir will provide recreational opportunities; but, because its primary purpose will be water supply, there will be years that the water levels will fluctuate significantly. This statement bears repeating: water levels in Allens Creek Reservoir will not be constant and will vary greatly, particularly during times of drought. The reservoir's primary benefit to the citizens of Texas is being used to provide water for municipalities, industry, agricultural producers, and electric generators.
What's next for Allens Creek Reservoir?
The BRA is in negotiations with an engineering firm to begin the required federal permitting of the reservoir and the preliminary design of the necessary structures. The permitting process alone will take from five to seven years. After all of the many permits, both federal and state, are granted, the reservoir will take approximately three years to construct. Our goal is to begin construction by 2022.
The next few months will be spent planning the activities that accompany the environmental permitting, followed by scientists and engineers beginning field studies and evaluations of the proposed reservoir site.
Beginning in 2016, the BRA will host stakeholder meetings and provide a detailed web page to keep all interested parties well informed. We will also stay in close coordination with local elected officials and adjacent landowners to ensure folks remain informed on upcoming activities and timelines of the project.
The BRA is excited about the Allens Creek Reservoir. We look forward to working with Austin County and other stakeholders to build this historic project. We will be committed to becoming a part of Austin County and work diligently to minimize the local impacts of this enormously important effort.
If you know other folks who did not receive this letter that would like to receive future correspondence, please have them e-mail their mailing address to Cathy Dominguez at Cathy.Dominguez@brazos.org. If you have questions about Allens Creek Reservoir, feel free to contact Ms. Dominguez at (254) 761-3176.