Belhouse Drought Preparedness Project
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Belhouse Drought Preparedness Project?
The Brazos River Authority (BRA) is proposing the Belhouse Drought Preparedness Project, a raw water transportation system that will allow the transfer of water from Belton Lake to Stillhouse Hollow Lake during periods of drought. The pipeline would increase the reliability allowing the reservoirs to function as a system, providing greater drought preparedness.
What is the purpose of the Belhouse Drought Preparedness Project?
Bell and Williamson counties, along with the surrounding areas, are growing at a fast pace. While adequate water supply is available much of the time, during drought periods such as the 1950s or the 2011-2015 drought, Stillhouse Hollow Lake will not have enough water to fully supply the future growth.
This area is fortunate to have four reservoirs that aid in flood control and store drinking water supply, while providing recreational opportunities. To continue to meet the needs of residents, businesses, and industry, the Belhouse Drought Preparedness Project will connect Lakes Belton and Stillhouse Hollow by a pipeline that will allow our cities and counties to access water supply where and when it is needed.
Why do we need a drought preparedness program between Belton Lake and Stillhouse Hollow Lake?
Lakes Belton and Stillhouse Hollow provide water for the cities of Temple, Belton, Killeen, Harker Heights, Gatesville, Copperas Cove, Lampasas, Georgetown, Round Rock and a number of other communities, water supply districts, and water supply corporations in the area. The proposed pipeline is needed to help the BRA meet the water supply needs of the residents and businesses in this growing area that use water from Stillhouse Hollow Lake.
Areas of Bell and Williamson counties, particularly the I-35 corridor, are growing rapidly. Surplus water stored in Belton Lake could provide water to these quickly growing areas through the proposed pipeline connection.
What is the Brazos River Authority?
The BRA was created in 1929 by the Texas Legislature to manage the Brazos River as a water resource in Texas. They were established with a mission to "develop, manage, and protect the water resources of the Brazos River basin."
The BRA is entirely self-supporting, except for occasional governmental grants to help pay the costs of specific projects. The BRA does not collect taxes or receive tax dollars from the state; it maintains and operates reservoirs and drinking water treatment systems using funds from the cities and businesses it serves.
The governing board of the BRA consists of 21 members that are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Texas Senate. BRA board members are volunteers who are not paid for their services.
Who will build the project?
The BRA will be responsible for contracting with engineering and construction firms to build the pipeline, intake structure, and associated pump stations.
How long will it take to build the project?
Once studies are completed and right-of-way/easements obtained, it is estimated to take two years before the line becomes operational. We expect the project to be completed by 2030.
Doesn't Belton Lake belong to the United States Army Corps of Engineers? How is the Corps involved in this pipeline?
Yes, Belton Lake is owned and operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), as is Stillhouse Hollow Lake. The BRA has agreements with the Corps to store water that is owned by the State of Texas in both reservoirs. The Corps is a valued partner of the BRA and will be heavily involved as we develop the Belhouse Drought Preparedness Project.
What will the project cost?
The 2021 State Water Plan estimated the total project cost at $90 million.
Who will pay for the cost of the Belhouse Drought Preparedness Project?
The project will be funded by the BRA.
Will the proposed pipeline be visible to the public?
No. The pipeline is designed to be buried underground with the exception of access points and some minor equipment.
Will right-of-way access be necessary to build this pipeline?
Yes, obtaining right-of-way will be necessary for the construction of the Belhouse Drought Preparedness project. The BRA will utilize access to existing right-of-way where possible. Impacted property owners will be contacted by a BRA representative before the project starts to discuss the acquisition process and potential impacts to their properties.
The BRA is working with the Corps of Engineers regarding access to their property at each reservoir.
Will there be any noise or lights associated with the operations of these structures?
Yes, however, BRA plans to be a good neighbor and minimize noise and light pollution in the few areas where this could be an issue.
Who has water contracts from Lake Belton?
Lake Belton serves the following cities and communities:
- 439 Water Supply Corp.
- Bell County WCID
- City of Belton
- Bluebonnet Water Supply Corp.
- City of Harker Heights
- City of McGregor
- City of Temple
- Wildflower Country Club
- Coryell City Water Supply District
- Fort Gates Water Supply Corp.
- City of Gatesville
- The Grove Water Supply Corp.
- SLR Property I, LP
Who has water contracts from Stillhouse Hollow Lake?
Stillhouse Hollow Lake serves the following cities and communities:
- County Harvest
- Bell County WCID
- City of Harker Heights
- Kempner Water Supply Corp.
- Salado Water Supply Corp.
- Central Texas Water Supply Corp.
- City of Lampasas
- Brushy Creek MUD
- City of Georgetown
- High Gabriel Water Supply Corp.
- Jarrell-Schwertner Water Supply Corp.
- City of Round Rock
Doesn't the water in Belton Lake belong to the City of Belton?
No, the water stored in Belton Lake is owned by the State of Texas and held in trust for the residents of the state. The BRA holds a water right issued by the State to store and use the water in Belton Lake for residential and business use. As part of the water rights issued by the state, the BRA helped pay for the construction of Belton Lake and continues to pay part of the costs for maintenance and operation.
How does this project benefit the citizens of Central Texas?
The pipeline will benefit Bell County by supplying water to citizens and businesses that use water from Stillhouse Hollow Lake. Three major wholesale water providers maintain intakes on Stillhouse Hollow Lake including: Bell County Water Supply and Improvement District No. 1 (Bell County WCID #1), Central Texas Water Supply Corporation (Centex WSC) and Kempner Water Supply Corporation. These wholesale water providers supply water from Stillhouse Lake to multiple communities in the Central Texas area that will benefit from the Belhouse pipeline. Some of the larger cities that will benefit from the project include: Killeen, Harker Heights, Copperas Cove, Kempner, Lampasas, and Salado.
I have a permit for a water pump to draw water from Belton Lake to water my lawn/property. Will I still be able to use the pump?
Yes, pumping permits will not be affected by the pipeline.
Where will the project be located?
The BRA conducted studies to determine potential pipeline routes, as well as potential locations for a water intake on Belton Lake and a discharge point at Stillhouse Hollow. After extensive analysis, the BRA has selected a preferred route and is presenting the results of their study to the public for their input on Sept. 21, 2022.
Are you building anything besides a pipeline?
Yes, a water intake will be built on Belton Lake to pump water from the reservoir into the pipeline. Additional pump stations may also be built at points along the pipeline to help move the water to Stillhouse Hollow Lake. There will also be an outlet structure where water will flow from the pipeline into Stillhouse Hollow Lake.
How big will the pipeline be?
The projected pipeline will be approximately six to seven miles long and up to four feet in diameter.
Will the pipeline operate continually?
No, the pipeline will only be used during dry times when rainfall around Stillhouse Hollow Lake is not enough to meet consumer need.
Will a noise analysis be a part of this study?
The noise of the water pump station, which will be located near Lake Belton, will be the same decibel level as an A/C unit that is connected to a home.
Yes, a noise analysis will be conducted as part of the environmental studies required before construction can begin. The analysis considers the current level of noise at many locations throughout the study area, calculates existing and projected future noise levels, and considers noise reduction measures. The results of that analysis will be made available at future public meetings and will be included as part of the environmental study.
LAKE AND RIVER LEVELS
Will the pipeline be used to keep Stillhouse Hollow Lake full?
The purpose of the pipeline is not to maintain water levels at Stillhouse Hollow Lake but to ensure consumers’ needs are met during droughts.
How will the Belhouse Drought Preparedness Project affect water levels in each lake?
The project will only move water when necessary during dry conditions. At those times, when water is scarce, lake levels will be affected due to the lack of rainfall and water use from the lakes.
Will this project affect river flows?
Modeling of operations reveals no significant impact on downstream flows in the Leon or Lampasas Rivers.
Will I still be able to access the boat ramps to put in my boat?
Access to the lake will remain available most of the time; however, boat ramps may become unavailable during drought conditions.
Will this project hurt the fish in the lake?
The project will not harm the fish in the reservoir.
Will this project take fish out of the lake and send them to Lake Stillhouse Hollow?
The BRA will comply with all rules and regulations regarding pipeline construction. However, it is likely that small fish, such as minnows, will be transferred through the pipeline. Larger fish will be prevented from entering.
Can I fish near the pipeline intake?
Fishing near the intake structure will be limited for your safety.
How long will construction take place in front of my yard?
Construction will occur in phases, where crews will first perform an open-cut along the pipeline route, the pipeline will be placed, the open-cut will be backfilled with dirt, and restored to its original conditions. BRA estimates the entire process to take between 12-24 months, depending on the location along the project corridor.
How will we be impacted by ongoing construction work?
As our trucks and equipment move into the project area, we’re committed to being a good neighbor to nearby property owners and drivers. We understand it can be tough on everyone when construction starts, which is why we’re doing everything we can to minimize impacts and keep you informed.
Where can I find the latest information on closures?
Please visit www.brazos.org/Belhouse or follow @Brazoswater on Twitter to get the latest construction updates and roadway closures
When will construction occur in front of my house?
The Belhouse Drought Preparedness Project is still in the preliminary design and environmental analysis phase. BRA will finalize construction phasing and traffic control plans once the project has been approved for final design.