Lavaca-Navidad River Authority votes to fund $310,000 river study


April 21, 2010 at 6 p.m.
Updated April 20, 2010 at 11:21 p.m.

EDNA - The Lavaca-Navidad River Authority voted 6-2 on Wednesday to fund a $310,000 feasibility study that would examine options for meeting future water demand and state requirements.

The board voted during a three-hour meeting that included comments from concerned residents who said the study could ultimately hurt their property and lives.

"My ranch, my homestead is a valuable piece of property to me, my family and to others in the community," said Kenneth Koop. "I want a piece of our heritage, and I don't want to lose it because you want to send water to San Antonio or whoever."

The feasibility study will examine two options: Whether an onsite reservoir known as the Palmetto Bend Stage II or an offsite reservoir would be financially or environmentally feasible.

The first option would involve damming the Lavaca River; the second would involve pumping water to a location away from the river.

Koop owns land that could potentially be affected if the Palmetto Bend Stage II dam project is built.

"Bottom line is we've got to save that river, we've got to do what's best for Jackson County and we've got to all work together," said Dr. Mac Lee, who opposes building a dam on the river.

A representative of the group Leave Our Lavaca Alone, an Edna-based advocacy group against damming the river, presented the board with a stack of petitions signed by 760 residents.

"We don't take this lightly," Paul Littlefield, president of the board, said. "We are charged with a job by the state that we feel that we can do with the water that's in our water basin. Understand that we lay at night thinking about and worrying about it, too."

Formosa-Point Comfort, the river authority's second largest customer, announced a need for an additional 10,000 acre-feet of water a year by 2015. This need prompted the study.

The board discussed three options for funding the study:

Ask Formosa to pay all costs.

Share the costs between Formosa and the river authority.

Authorize the river authority to pay the entire cost via money in a reserve fund.

The board also listened to a presentation from a consultant, who discussed the importance of developing water in the Lavaca Regional Planning area.

"There are particular concerns for this region that aren't really considered in other regions throughout the state," said Jason Afinowicz, with AECOM, a Houston-based consulting group. "What's why the Lavaca region does need some special attention."

Increased demand in other regions, strong agriculture demands and population changes were a few reasons mentioned.

All members except Kay Frells were present for the vote.

Patrick Brzozowski, river authority general manager, said if the river authority funds the study, this will allow it to stay in control of what happens with the results, and thus not be obligated to anyone.

"We don't have a contract to anyone for this water," he said. "We have a request. That doesn't mean we have to fulfill it."



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