River authority CEO disputes BRA actions caused Lake Granbury woes

Phil Ford

Phil Ford

Recently, the BRA received an email from a resident of Granbury that included a long list of good and detailed questions. As our staff answered these questions and as we’ve been watching the numerous comments posted on social media, it became obvious that there is a great deal of misinformation that has been taken as fact and has had a noticeable impact on the local community.

A comment noted that the most difficult part of dealing with the low lake levels is not that people can’t enjoy local recreation; it’s the constant worry and concern about dropping property values, less tourism and a loss of local business. We’ve received comments from numerous lake-side residents that state the BRA’s goal is to return the reservoir to river-like conditions or that the current lake level is the “new normal.”

We’ve seen comments that approval of the BRA’s pending water permit will cause reservoirs to remain as they currently are today. Numerous residents have also said they’ve been told that they will lose everything they’ve worked for and, because of this, many plan to sell their properties and get out before it’s too late.

In all honesty, none of these concerns are correct.

As we’ve all learned by watching our local weatherman, no one can accurately predict the weather. In 2007 when we experienced rainfall, the BRA passed 16 times the amount of water stored in Lake Granbury through its gates. At that time none of us predicted that just four years later we would be experiencing a record breaking, multi-year drought.

The BRA’s application for a System Operation Permit was submitted to the state in 2004.  It’s a unique permit application because rather than applying to build an additional reservoir facility, it anticipates using, in part, excess streamflow such as flows that occurred in 2007 to meet additional water supply needs.

Misinformation about this permit application has caused many people to believe that the water supply being requested would originate entirely from Lake Granbury.  In fact, the System Operation Permit would utilize water from throughout the Brazos basin’s 42,000 square miles.

I don’t know the motivation behind those that have claimed that the drought is not responsible for the lower levels at Lake Granbury and throughout the Brazos basin. We can only assume that they’ve not watched the local or national news stations that continue to cover the effects of the drought on lake levels throughout Texas.

If you doubt the drought has affected Lake Granbury, take a look at the photos posted by lakeside owners in other parts of the state that are experiencing the same problems as Granbury lakeside owners. http://www.flickr.com/groups/texasdrought/. Lower lake levels are not unique to Lake Granbury. It is a state-wide issue. 

The BRA would very much like to provide the community with correct information that is free of rumor and propaganda. Anyone can make a statement. Whether or not that statement is true and correct or slanted to reflect a specific goal, it can be portrayed as fact yet be incorrect.

Refuting an inaccurate statement has been considered to be defensive or a public relations spin; however, the BRA has and continues to strive for transparency by making all financial information and water planning documents available on our website. We welcome the potential of a state audit with the assurance that decisions and practices have been made with the BRA’s mission at the core of all operations.

Continuing to provide the precious and limited resource of water to Texas citizens will only become more difficult in the future as our population grows. History has shown us that severe drought events such as the one we are currently experiencing do happen, but they have been rare and normally there is ample water supply to support both consumptive use and recreation.

We look forward to those normal times knowing that it will rain again, the reservoirs will refill, and things will return to normal.  Until that time, we may be assured that there is enough water supply to fulfill the necessities of life including water from our faucets and electricity for our homes and businesses.

I am aware that there are many residents that have questions regarding the BRA and its legislatively-sanctioned mission. I’d like to provide everyone with the answers to the questions submitted by the resident of Granbury. I hope that if we have not addressed your specific concerns, that you’ll take the time to contact us directly rather than assuming that innuendo and rumors are correct.

You may view the entire list of questions submitted and their answers by clicking here.

Phil Ford is the general manager and chief executive officer of the Brazos River Authority.


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