Officials going to Austin to talk BRA with TCEQ

February 13, 2013

A group of city and county officials will be traveling to Austin Friday for a meeting with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The topic of the discussion will be the Brazos River Authority (BRA) and how low lake levels could ultimately impact all county residents, not just those with waterfront property.

The TCEQ currently is taking under consideration a water use study that the commission had required the BRA to submit.

County Judge Darrell Cockerham and Precinct 4 Commissioner Steve Berry will be representing the county at the meeting, which will begin at 11 a.m. The city of Granbury will be represented by City Manager Wayne McKethan, Mayor Pro Tem Nin Hulett and council members Tony Allen and Mickey Parson.

McKethan said that he will be taking with him a study on the economic and population impact of the low lake levels. He and Berry said that tax increases may ultimately be imposed to make up for lost revenues brought by lower home valuations on waterfront homes.

“These people have gone in and sunk a lot of their retirement money. They’ve invested a lot of money on their houses and their retirements, and that’s a tax base that’s going to dry up on us,” Berry said. “This is going to be a big hit to our taxpayers if this (lower lake levels and valuations) is the norm.”

Allen said that the BRA charges dock fees to homeowners, even though many oftentimes can’t use the docks because of the water level. The fee, he said, is based on the dock’s square footage.

Also, the BRA charges annual water usage fees for property owners who use lake water to irrigate their lawns. Oftentimes, the pumps for sprinkler systems won’t work because of the low lake level. Allen said he hasn’t been able to water his lawn with lake water since July 19.

Berry takes issue with the BRA in several areas, including the dock fees and the BRA having allowed canal developments.

“If this is what we’ve got to live with, why not extend the boat ramps?” was another point Berry raised. “Why haven’t they made an effort? I haven’t seen any money put back in the infrastructure. They’re going to say, well, the water’s just down. They’re still selling water rights and collecting dock fees. Where is this money going, and why haven’t they put any money back into the infrastructure?”

The commissioner also stated: “They (BRA) are letting a lot of water go all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s a poor management plan.”

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