MINUTES

REGION H WATER PLANNING GROUP MEETING

10:00 A.M.

JULY 7, 1999

CITY HALL, CONROE, TEXAS

 

MEMBERS PRESENT: Chairman James Adams, Frederick Perrenot, Roosevelt Alexander, John Bartos, Robert Bruner, Judge Mark Evans, Mary Alice Gonzalez, Commissioner Jack Harris, Carolyn Johnson, Councilman Tom Manison, Marvin Marcell, James Morrison, Ronald Neighbors, Jack Searcy, Jr., Michael Sullivan, William Teer, Steve Tyler, Danny Vance, C. Harold Wallace, Kerry Whelan

PRESIDING: James Adams

ALTERNATES: Jimmie Schindewolf for Judge Robert Eckels, Guy Jackson for David Jenkins, Denis Qualls for Tom Ray, and J.D. Beffort for Ernest Rebuck.

 

APPROVE MINUTES OF JUNE 2, 1999 MEETING:

Motioned by Danny Vance to accept as amended. Seconded by Kerry Whelan. Motion carried.

FINAL LEGISLATIVE TRACKING SUBCOMMITTEE REPORT:

Judge Evans presented an 8-page comprehensive final report on water related bills affecting Region H.

 

CONSULTANT UPDATE: Report attached with Minutes.

Presentation by Jeff Taylor, Al Fraizer, and John Nelson.

 

Highlights: Focused on preliminary water supply findings and reservoir site recommendations. From now until February, water supply numbers, comparison of demand to supply, and identity of where the shortages are projected to occur in Region H will be completed. Development of water management strategies will be starting up.

No public meetings between now and February; additional mailouts with prepared materials to be supplied to the public. Michael Sullivan asked for and received assurances that four public meetings will still be held.

Task I memo is a broad overview of Region H, showing the importance of Region H to Texasí petrochemical industry, recreation, and commercial fishing.

Discussion followed on interbasin transfers, long-term water needs in the San Jacinto River Basin, multi-purpose reservoirs, water quality issues, upstream reuse, irrigation water demands, water management strategies, what regional water planning means to small cities, and environmental questions.

The Texas Water Plan will require construction of additional surface water facilities, reallocation of hydropower storage, and the development of future wastewater reuse projects. Municipal and industrial water rights numbers were presented as well.

Marvin Marcell commented the Water Development Board is fairly comfortable that the population and water demand projections are correct; the issue is how to reallocate the shortfalls due to no distribution process in place and the cost to construct may be exorbitant.

Jeff Taylor stated there is a significant demand number in ² county other² illustrating those demands as a single point source, but which can be moved where needed. Senate Bill 1 is a water supply effort as opposed to retail distribution planning effort.

Presentation on Surface and groundwater: Permitting is a function of hydrologic numbers. Rivers are over-appropriated. Ron Neighbors mentioned saltwater interface; John Nelson briefly added information on stagnant water at the lower points of the aquifers. Mr. Nelson stated that near the coast poor water quality makes it unusable. Consensus: As you go deeper, the quality is poorer.

Drought water pumpage and availability information: The Texas Water Development Board values, from a resource standpoint, indicate a slight decline in pumpage due to increased utilization of surface water and groundwater regulation. Commissioner Harris asked where the critical time is for the transfer from ground to surface water. Jeff Taylor mentioned groundwater in Region H is about 600,000 acre feet; surface water supplies 2.3 million-acre feet of available water supply on a region-wide basis. Projections are slightly above the 3 million acre foot value, just enough to meet the 50 year projection. There are areas in Region H that have insufficient water supplies. Water will be moved around to meet the demand.

Future water resources: Criteria used for selecting unique reservoir sites: Yield over 5,000 acre feet, site is in Region H, sponsored by or supported by major water providers, and identified in 1997 Texas Water Plan as recommended or as an alternate site.

Commissioner Harris questioned Millican Reservoir being taken off the list and the fact that environmental concerns may be mitigated. Millican could serve a distribution canal system set up for Fort Bend, Brazoria, and Galveston counties. Fred Perrenot added the need to look at other reservoirs not included. Harold Wallace mentioned distribution costs and the need to take a longer-range look. Ron Neighbors expressed concern that the Group looks for every possible source.

Dennis Qualls of the Brazos River Authority said these reservoirs fit the criteria established by the consultant team, but a presentation to provide background information on all projects can be made. Jack Searcy asked that the criteria be predicated on water supplies and let the Board worry about whether itís economically feasible. Dennis Qualls suggested Millican was not their highest priority. Jim Adams asked that Millican be added to the list. Jeff Taylor also said the 1997 Water Plan has two lists; (1) recommended, and (2) alternative sites. Millican and Bedias specifically discussed. Millican has mineral-related problems, mining interests, and is historically limited. Jim Adams said that historically in building reservoirs a local governmental sponsor contracts to sell the water to underwrite revenue bonds. Steve Tyler noted this is a 50-year plan and gave Lake Conroe as an example of the salability of water and the need to explore new cooperative ways between private developers and governmental entities. Jeff Taylor requested input on what the plan for Region H is to accomplish. Danny Vance suggested the removal of the criteria that the reservoir is to be supported by a major provider, which allows other potential sites to be considered. Jim Adams asked that the criteria that states that the site is located within Region H be amended by adding a comma and the statement ² or situated to provide good service to region H² . Commissioner Harris requested that both preferred sites and alternative sites be presented to the Group. Michael Sullivan requested information be presented for review before the meeting.

Further discussion on this issue is scheduled for the August 4th meeting.

PRESENTATION BY CINDY LOEFFLER, TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE:

There are 44 reservoir sites in the state. Descriptions of Millican and Bedias were contained in the presentation materials, along with descriptions of some of the potential impacts, loss of terrestrial habitat, and mitigation that might be required.

Background of Parks and Wildlifeís participation in water planning, permitting, and regulation process resulted in the 1997 Texas Water Plan.

The Texas Water Development Board did the work, analyses and calculations, with the assistance of the TNRCC and Parks and Wildlife, to produce the Consensus Based Water Plan, which is the first plan to consider environmental inflows, instream flow needs, and fresh water inflows to bays and estuaries. Parks and Wildlife was involved in the Texas Water Development Boardís rule-making process by having non-voting members support and lend technical assistance and expertise.

 

Parks and Wildlife has been assigned to support the planning groups from a broad technical base in providing resource protection, evaluate water management strategies, environmental factors, wildlife and inland fisheries, reviewing consensus based projections and approving revisions. Once future water needs for different sectors are identified, the TWDB will provide alternative water management strategies and site specific environmental information, and how to mitigate damage.

Texas Water Code Chapter 16.058 provides that the Bays and Estuaries Study Program determine how much water an estuary needs, what kind of timing schedule it needs, and what other factors of importance to consider to ensure an ecologically healthy basis. The report published in 1994 applies to different bay systems.

Included in the handouts was an executive summary for Galveston Bay Freshwater Inflow Analysis. Min Q is the minimum inflow needed to satisfy salinity requirements; and Max H is the inflow needed to optimize or maximize total harvest of organisms. In dry conditions, the target is lower; wet conditions, target increases to maximum range to provide a better habitat in the bay.

In formulating the environmental flow needs for planning purposes, there was not an abundance of biological data; but hydrological data was readily available. Parks and Wildlife biologists and instream flow specialists analyzed the major factors to be considered and provided the data used in the planning analyses to produce the seven items listed.

Inflow regimes should mimic natural hydrology as closely as possible.

Daily flux of stream flows and ramping and diversion rates apply to daily operation of projects.

Channel maintenance flow applies to the planning process, allowing periodic flow events through the project that are not flood events. This helps maintain channel morphology, the shaping, meanders and bends in the river segment; allowing sediment flows in the rivers and streams to be flushed through; and keeping vegetation from encroaching into the channel.

Drought contingencies are built into the overall management regime for estuaries, as is the need to regionalize the criteria while using site-specific hydrology for environmental planning criteria. Zone 1 talks about Max H flow downstream. Zone 2 drops to the lower flow level, Min Q. Zone 3 passes through water quality maintenance flows of 7Q2.

The WRAP model (Water Rights Analysis Package) developed by Texas A&M will, when availability models are complete, be applied to 22 river basins and consider environmental flows. Questions such as reuse, the effect of reuse on downstream aquatic ecosystems, and downstream water rights will need to be answered. Reuse is a critical item that has not been addressed by the permits granted by TNRCC.

SB 1, to protect existing water rights permits, added the Water Trust. If the water rights have not been used for a period of time, they could be subject to cancellation. But if placed in the Water Trust they would be exempt from cancellation.

River and stream segments of unique ecological value contains five criteria and is up to the regions to select and nominate river and stream segments that fit the criteria. That recommendation goes to the Legislature. Parks and Wildlife will provide a list of recommended river and stream segments for the regional planning groupís use.

Steve Tyler mentioned the indirect impact of recreational amenities and high growth cyber businesses on the economic development in areas such as Austin. Ms. Loeffler said these studies are pretty specialized and pretty rare. A report dated March Ď98 on recreational activities associated with Galveston Bay Region indicate an impact of approximately $750 million. Reports like this may possibly be available for this region through entities such as the Greater Houston Partnership, Houston-Galveston Area Council, Galveston Bay Estuary Program.

GENERAL DISCUSSION:

Chairman Adams asked for authorization to execute amendment to allow the Board to apply for reimbursement before disbursement of funds. This amendment would allow the Group to apply for reimbursement and then we would show proof of payment of invoices at a later time.

Motion to authorize amendment by Michael Sullivan. Seconded by Danny Vance. Motion carried.

Michael Sullivan mentioned a water meeting with the legislators on the 14th at the Sheraton.

TEXAS WATER DEVELOPMENT BOARD COMMUNICATIONS:

J.D. Beffort mentioned one item in the Appropriations Bill that dealt with the contingency fund in the amount of $1 million to be spread over all 16 planning regions and the lack of good public participation and how to enhance that.

PUBLIC COMMENTS:

None

 

NEXT MEETING:

August 4, 1999

10:00 a.m.

City Hall, 6th Floor

Conroe, Texas

ADJOURN