Since 1949, Sabine River Authority has played major role in state and regional water issues

 


February 28, 2007



The Orange County News

1507 West Park Avenue

Orange, Texas 77630

409-883-4388

Fax: 409-886-3907

http://www.theorangecountynews.com

To submit a Letter to the Editor: ocn@hearstnp.com

 


Created by the Legislature in 1949 as an official agency of the State of Texas, the Sabine River Authority of Texas (SRA) is a conservation and reclamation district with responsibilities to control, store, preserve, and distribute the waters of the Sabine River and its tributary system for useful purposes.

The Sabine River Basin (Basin) covers 21 counties with more than 600,000 people in an area that begins just east of Dallas in Northeast Texas and extends more than 500 river miles down the Sabine River to Orange County in Southeast Texas.

SRA is organized along three general areas, consisting of Operations, Water Resources and the Authority General Office.

"Orange County continues to be one of the focal points of our operations in the Sabine River Basin," says SRA General Manager Jerry Clark. "Sabine River Authority's roots run long and deep in Orange County where its citizens were among the early pioneers that had the vision to help create the Sabine River Authority of Texas."

The 2007 SRA Board of Directors includes Earl Williams and Don Covington, both of Orange; and Stan Mathews of Pinehurst.

 

Operations

 

The Operations Branch manages three reservoirs (Lake Tawakoni, Lake Fork and Toledo Bend Reservoir), a pump station and canal system, and parks and recreation facilities. The John W. Simmons Gulf Coast Canal system runs 75 miles of canals throughout Orange County to supply raw water to industries, municipalities and other water users.

The Parks and Recreation Division maintains parks and recreation facilities on all three reservoirs and numerous boat ramps that provide public access along the river. Due to two consecutive years of drought, all three SRA reservoirs experienced record low lake levels in 2006.

Lake Tawakoni, the reservoir most affected by the drought, set a record low of 12 feet below conservation pool in December of 2006. The record low lake level for Lake Fork was also set in December at 5 feet below conservation pool. Toledo Bend Reservoir set a record low of 10 feet below conservation pool in October of 2006 and on January 25, 2007 the reservoir was full.

In response to the drought conditions in 2006, the Operations Branch provided assistance as needed to customers dealing with intake structure adjustments.

SRA also took the opportunity to improve recreation accessibility on Lake Tawakoni and Toledo Bend Reservoir by extending boat ramps to accommodate lower lake levels. Improvements were made at the Deweyville Boat Ramp site in Newton County on the Sabine River at Texas Highway 12.

Base material for a larger parking lot and two concrete slabs with picnic tables will provide a better facility for recreational activities.

 

Water Resources

 

The Water Resources Branch provides water resource planning and development and water quality monitoring for the Basin. The Resource Management and Project Development Division and the Environmental Services Division assist in water resource planning and development, water quality assurance, environmental services support and information management.

In 2006, SRA continued to partner with the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) in a study to evaluate the Lower Sabine River instream flow requirements. Other activities in 2006 include participating on a nutrient standards committee through the Texas Water Conservation Association and meeting with Texas Parks and Wildlife concerning treatment of aquatic vegetation in SRA reservoirs. SRA actively promotes water conservation through many programs which target best management practices to increase water efficiency and encourage the conservation of existing water supplies. SRA provided drought affected customers with weekly lake condition reports to assist in these efforts. SRA continues to partner with TCEQ in the Texas Clean Rivers Program to foster local input to the regulatory authorities on water quality issues. In 2006, SRA led the public participation efforts for the Orange County Total Maximum Daily Load (OCTMDL) project.

This project, first initiated by TCEQ in 2002, has engaged local stakeholders in the development of a plan to improve the water quality of two bayous in Orange County. The draft TMDL report will soon be available for public comment.

 

The S.R. Authority General Office

 

The Authority General Office (AGO) of the Sabine River Authority of Texas is located in Orange County approximately eight miles north of the City of Orange. All official activities of the Authority are arranged and coordinated here.

The AGO was awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for fiscal year 2005. This award is the highest form of recognition for financial reporting and government accounting. Other activities that occurred in 2006 included working with regional water planning groups to develop water management strategies that meet growing demands for water throughout the Basin; engaging engineer consultants to review in-stream flow and bays and estuary issues for the Basin; and funding 14 Community Assistance Grants for water infrastructure projects as part of their economic development program to enhance the vitality of the Sabine River Basin.

SRA plays a major role in state and regional water planning issues. General Manager, Jerry Clark was appointed by Governor Rick Perry to the Environmental Flows Advisory Committee charged with balancing the growing demands for Texas water resources with environmental concerns.

Assistant General Manager, David Montagne served on the Texas Water Conservation Association's Reuse Water Committee, which reviewed the parameters of reusing water within the boundaries of the State of Texas.

Additional information about the Sabine River Authority of Texas is available at http://www.sratx.org


Copyright 2007, The Orange County News.

http://www.theorangecountynews.com/news/2007/0228/Local_news/054.html