LAKE BROWNWOOD WATER
May 4, 2012
Letter to the Editor;
I have often wondered why my Lord had let me live so long, why I witnessed the burial of three of my four children, all of my three brothers. This may be “it”.
The subject is water and Lake Brownwood. I was born at 1514 Belle Plain, a Brownwood Street on May 28, 1928, the year the actual construction begin to build Lake Brownwood. My granddad, George Stuteville and my wife’s grandfather, Henry Campbell became part of the workforce necessary to cut down trees and remove brush from the Lake Basin.
Early history of the Lake project came from their lips. Much talk had swirled about concerning irrigation as well as providing water for Brownwood, a town of 12,000 good people “and seven old grouches”. Actually, a large number produce3d and sold illegal alcohol, using spring water. The county had many springs in 1928, some now in the lake basin.
The tortured history of the lake began when the experts predicted that it would require three years of rain to fill the lake. It took four days. Henry Campbell’s earth moving equipment was at the bottom of the lake. The City of Brownwood (no Early then) would buy released lake water that was released to fill the two small lakes downstream. The Brownwood Filtration plant existed just above the second dam in Riverside Park, some concrete ovals still exist. Farmers downstream from the dam would pay for water to place on farms that adjoined the Pecan Bayou and Colorado River. Meters on pumps to irrigate determined the volume and price.
The boundaries of the District covered more land subject to irrigation, but the bonds did not provide enough money to build an inland irrigation system. The Water Board failed to get a permit to impound the lake water. The State sued the District, asking the Court to require the Board to release all lake water.
Fortunately, Brown County had elected a state senator and legislator who knew what to do. The solution to the problem rested on state legislation, validating the District and its right to impound the water. Just pass a Law.
Famine engulfed the land in 1932. The District could not borrow the cost to construct the present land irrigation system or a new filtration plant. A loan was finally obtained when Brownwood in 1938 agreed to guarantee the Bonds. Created a bunch of jobs. In short the lake was created to supply water to Brownwood. By 1940 an open canal carried water to the new filtration plant build behind Round Mountain.
Water brings jobs. The U.S. Defense Department picked Brownwood for it’s Army Camp Bowie because of the water and the railroads. The Army paid for rebuilding the Round Mountain Water Plant to service 70,000 soldiers, and 30,000 civilians at no cost to Brownwood or the Board.
Our U.S. Senator guided the establishment of camp Bowie. A perk or Pork Barrel.
Next the dam at Lake Brownwood was in bad shape. Safety concerns required it to be remodeled. We turned to the federal government for help. Our Senator, later President, added the cost to rehabilitate the dam to the Corps of Engineers budget.
Today, this type of legislation is called “Pork Barrel” or a “Perk”. The dam was rebuilt at no direct cost to the Water District.
The present Water Board leadership issued a letter to the Editor of the Brownwood Bulletin recently. He chose to print it on May 3, 2012. As that leader admitted, Brownwood has never needed to ration water before 2011. Why?
The letter from our leader touched on numerous questions raised on the subject and how that water is being used.
The article by our leader pointed out and blamed the government agencies “that caused the problem”.
Our leader said our water shortage is caused by evaporation. This is silly. We have had evaporation every year since 1932 and no shortage.
He next mentioned both a Drought contingency Plan on how to manage shortages and irrigation policies. This plan says the first priority is water use in households. I have a suggestion. It is to stop all irrigation until the lake reaches spillway level, then to a drop of four feet at which time release of water for irrigation stops. I base this on the fact that the lake was built for the sole purpose to supply treated water to the City of Brownwood as it existed in 1939 when Brownwood guaranteed the funds to build Round Mountain treatment plant, and the present ground irrigation system.
Our leader next refers to those entities that purchase treated water from the district. He fails to describe just who these “entities” are. I will try to fill this gap, a gap he does not want discovered. Why? Because this gap tells us why we have a water shortage. The first two customers are Brookesmith Rural Water Corp, and Zephyr Rural Water Corp. I formed these entities in about 1967, to supply treated water to country folds. These folks paid to build that system. The Brown County Water Board has failed Brownwood because it does not limit sales only within the confines of Brown County.
Brookesmith sells treated water to Santa Anna, and the Coleman County Rural Water Corp, which sells our treated water all the way to Valera. I do not know if Zephyr sells water to Mills County.
My point is that our lake water should not be sold outside the confines of Brown County. If one adds enough customers, no amount of rain can fill the lake.
Our leader next justifies virtually giving our lake water to farmers for irrigation for decades. The Water Board that hired him are well-to-do people that either irrigate or are close friends with the irrigators. The irrigation water rate is so outrageously low that no study should be required to know it is a steal.
Irrigation sucks some 60% of our lake water every year, paying 17% of what a Brownwood house owner pays, according to usually reliable sources. Then our leader says that’s o.k. because we developed a plan to raise the price of irrigation water so that in ten years they will be paying what they should pay today. Why not raise it now to what it should be? I will let you answer that.
Draining the lake water to irrigate presents a much darker problem. Lakefront property. Our Citizens paid a ton of money for their lots. Their property has been appraised as if the lake was full. The property value less in the millions. These people have no say concerning the election of the five directors who decide their fate. The ability to vote for directors and the ability to hold office is odd to say the least. One can be voted into office if one owns property in the district, but cannot vote in the election. At least two of the five directors do not live in the district, cannot vote, but own property inside the district. One owns a vacant lot.
Our leader indicates that any water improvements cost too much. We cannot pay to fix our water problem. That is the voice of failure, a voice of doom. He mentions problems with making the Water District county wide. He has a long list of reasons why we cannot save ourselves. All are legislate blocks. We can’t dredge the lake because it costs too much, the Corps of Engineers will not let us, the state will not let us. All of these blocks can be easily overcome if our state and federal elected people cared to help us.
A federal bill telling the Corps of Engineers to dredge the lake and providing the money to cure a health danger. If the mud is toxic, it is a health hazard and should be cured by removing it. No different than money furnished to dredge harbors and rivers. Our Texas Senators and Representatives could squeeze through a bill to increase the permitted capacity of the lake. Deep water does not evaporate.
Voters do have an opportunity to fix our water problem and it is fixable. Three brave souls, have stepped forward to take control of the Water Board and “do something” to fix the water problem. Their fix does not include sewer water for Brownwood. Interesting enough our leader carefully avoids mentioning the use of sewer water for us to drink.
The three that deserve your vote are:
Dr. John Hayes
Three present board members are seeking re-election. According to the person they hired as their leader, nothing can be done except pray for rain. I was taught that the Lord helps them who help themselves.
Probably some shenanigans going on with the election ballot. Said to be drawn blindly, oddly enough, the three seeking re-election were all drawn first – 1,2,3. The three that want a chance to fix the water problem were all drawn to be last on the ballot. Let us turn a dark deed into a good deed. Just vote for the last three on the ballot.
IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE!
Colonel George Day
2401 Good Shepherd Dr.
Brownwood, TX 76801