Lawmakers seek relief for lake permit holders

January 11, 2014

State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) and state Rep. Jim Keffer (R-Eastland) this week sent a joint letter to Brazos River Authority (BRA) officials asking for “relief” for water pump permit holders who pay annual fees, but who have been unable to pump water because of low lake levels.

In response, Presiding Officer Dave Scott sent the lawmakers a letter stating that the issue will be placed on the agenda for the board’s Jan. 27 meeting.

The lawmakers said they have been contacted by “a large number of constituents” regarding recently mailed invoices from the BRA informing them that their annual $45.95 fee is due by Feb. 1.

Scott’s letter said that the BRA has also received calls from concerned lakeside residents about the same issue.

The BRA is considering various options regarding the management of annual residential water permit fees at all BRA reservoirs, according to the website.

Until a solution is reached, there is no need to remove pumps or water lines. The Feb. 1 deadline is extended indefinitely until the matter is resolved.

Lake Granbury is down about 8-1/2 feet. Most of the boat docks are dry, as are most of the channels in canal developments.

“Given the fact that 2013 lake levels afforded many of these permit-holders a similar lack of water access, and considering the assessment of these water-pump fees is done in advance of the year for which they are paid, we think you would agree that many of our concerned constituents may now be paying for a second year with no access to water,” the letter from Birdwell and Keffer says.

Property owners can opt out of the permits. “Nevertheless,” the lawmakers’ letter states, “we are concerned with whether these customers are able to do so (a) without incurring additional fees and/or penalties for cancellation, (b) without requiring substantial infrastructure costs and labor to remove pumps, and (c) without facing fees to renew their permits once the lake levels once again reach or elevate above their pump intakes.”

The letter further states: “We would further respectfully urge that the BRA provide clear notice to these customers of the information regarding cancellation of their permit, possible extension of intakes, and/or any other possible relief of which customers may take advantage.

“Considering the rare and unfortunate state of the lake level, we believe it is likely that many of your customers may be unaware of these specific details, thus furthering their frustrations upon receipt of a bill that charged them for water they could not access.”

The letter from the lawmakers referred to the River Authority’s “gracious decision to waive dock fees” and asked that similar consideration be given to provide relief for customers with water permits.

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