In 2001, I was honored when the Brazos River Authority Board of Directors entrusted me with the leadership of the oldest and largest river authority in Texas. As a newcomer, there was a great deal to learn. Like most Texans, I took for granted the liquid that flows from our faucets, never truly appreciating the breadth of its importance in daily life or the limits the lack of this resource could impose on our ever-expanding Texas population -- until I joined the BRA.
Though I’ve been General Manager for more than 16 years, I find that my education is ongoing. I also find that as we address each challenge, it’s followed quickly by another.
Texas needs more water. The State Water Plan clearly illustrates that the Brazos River basin does not currently hold enough water supply to meet the future needs of cities, agriculture, and industry. It is also evident that much of the water supply we have available is not located in the areas it’s needed.
Transportation of this resource has become an ever-increasing necessity within the Brazos River basin. In 2006, with the construction of the Williamson County Regional Raw Water Line, the Brazos River Authority began moving water from Lake Stillhouse Hollow south to Lake Georgetown to serve the burgeoning suburban population north of our state capital where supply opportunities are limited. Expansion of water transportation infrastructure will continue to be a major priority for the BRA in the future, as will the need for continued maintenance of our aging dam structures, so that we may continue to maintain our current water supply stores.
New reservoirs, like the BRA’s planned Allens Creek Reservoir in the lower Brazos basin, are necessary for expanding the state’s water availability; however, as our population grows, potential sites for these new reservoirs become as scarce as the water we hope will fill them.
When I joined the BRA, the Board tasked me with a major goal: find more water. In 2003, our BRA staff and several engineering, hydrology and environmental firms began a process that has since been heralded as the most innovative and complex water rights permit in Texas history – our System Operation Permit. Approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in 2016, the permit will soon allow existing water supplies available within the Brazos River basin to be used more efficiently, without building a dam structure or inundating additional Texas soil.
With innovations of this type in mind, we continue to examine and pursue other possibilities in acquiring and establishing additional water sources beyond the System Operation Permit. Conjunctive use of groundwater, blended with our existing surface water supplies, will soon make water available in areas where the construction of additional reservoirs is not an option. This type of water innovation, along with the continued expansion of conservation efforts, must continue to grow concurrently with our population.
About six months ago, I initially informed the BRA Board of Directors of my intent to retire, and made it official at the most recent Board meeting on October 30. My years at the BRA have been both challenging and rewarding. I’ve had the pleasure of working with numerous talented and forward-thinking individuals in the water industry, and I feel confident that their continued efforts will allow Texas to meet the State Water Plan goals.
I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to the BRA Board members, both past and present, who instilled their faith in my leadership. I’d also like to thank the hundreds of BRA staff members who continue to serve with integrity and an honest dedication to providing this limited natural resource to the citizens of the Brazos River basin and the State of Texas. As I move on to the next phase in my life, I am confident the Brazos River Authority will continue to reach forward with innovation and diligence.