Lake coalition draws PK, forms Alliance

June 22, 2013

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It’s the BRA versus the BRA.

If that sounds confusing, it’s because the playing field changed considerably this week in the match between the Brazos River Authority and those who fear that the agency’s quest for additional water rights could be disastrous for Hood County and other communities in the Brazos River Upper Basin.

Wednesday night, the recently created Brazos River Upper Basin Coalition, comprised of Hood County stakeholders, morphed into the Brazos River Alliance.

The key word is “Alliance.”

Three members of the Possum Kingdom Lake Association attended the meeting, and a board of directors was named.

The two lake regions have at times opposed each other, but are now joining forces in preparation for an administrative hearing in Austin later this summer. The hearing is part of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) permitting process for determining whether the BRA should be given control of an additional 423,000 acre feet of water annually.

The Alliance has the same acronym as the Brazos River Authority, which means that Internet searches for BRA will ultimately pop up information about the Alliance, as well as the Authority.

Mike Anderson, assistant public information officer for the Brazos River Authority, said Thursday afternoon that the agency has no comment about the new development.

The Alliance was the brainchild of Granbury businessman Ken Hackett. He will likely be president of the group once everything is finalized.

“We’re not issuing any titles yet,” Hackett said Thursday afternoon. “Once the corporate papers are approved, we will announce officers.”

Board member David Haley said the Alliance intends to draw in other groups.

“The first step was to reach out and begin discussions with the groups that are at PK (Possum Kingdom) and Friends of the Brazos, between us and (Lake) Whitney,” he said. “It’s our belief that the river basin as a whole is affected, and we should work together as an Alliance for the good of the entire basin.”

A press release issued the morning after the meeting stated that the grassroots organization “has developed a plan of action to contest the Brazos River Authority’s permit application for control of an additional 423,000 acre feet of water annually – three times the volume of water in a full Lake Granbury.”

The press release also contained this statement from Hackett:

“The recent man-made drought, coupled with an extended period of natural drought, increased water usage by our growing communities, and Brazos River Authority’s current draw-down ratio between Lake Granbury and Possum Kingdom have combined to place Brazos Basin lakes at alarmingly low water levels since 2007.

“The resulting environmental, economic, and quality of life and habitat losses to the entire Basin are serious and evident. The Brazos River Authority’s permit application will seriously aggravate these existing conditions.”

Before the Alliance was formed, the Coalition for Lake Granbury had already been working on an environmental impact study and an economic impact study to have for the hearing in Austin. A law firm is assisting the group.

Hackett said that a meeting was held last Saturday at Granbury Square Plaza, and U.S. Congressman Mike Conaway was in attendance, as were state Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) and state Rep. Jim Keffer (R-Eastland). He said that 14 or 15 of the “steering committee members” were there.

Hackett said that the informational meeting with the lawmakers went well and involved discussion of three top issues: how the closing of the hydroelectric plant at Possum Kingdom affected the lake level; the BRA’s “fundamentally flawed” water management plan; and the group’s belief that the additional water rights being requested by the BRA is “unprecedented in Texas water law, effectively asking for all remaining water rights to the river,” according to Hackett.

Anyone wishing to get involved with the Brazos River Alliance can call Hackett at 817-776-7784, Haley at 214-535-5089 or Alliance member Vicki Davies at 817-776-1555.

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