The lobby of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative’s Marble Falls office, 4302 U.S. 281, in August 2022, when it was closed to walk-in members wanting to pay their bills in person by cash or check. In-lobby payments will be reinstated by the end of February after new kiosks designed to take cash and checks are installed in all seven of PEC’s district offices. Staff will be available to help when needed. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman
By the end of February, Pedernales Electric Cooperative members once again will be able to pay their electricity bills inside office lobbies by cash or check. PEC Director James Oakley asked staff to look into the issue at the December board meeting after talking to members unhappy with changes in how PEC’s district offices operate.
“You gave us great direction, and we are implementing your suggestions,” CEO Julie Parsley told board members at their regular meeting Jan. 20. “It provides members options to pay without staff having to handle checks or cash.”
Payment kiosks designed to take cash and checks will be installed in each of PEC’s seven district offices. A staff member will be on hand to help with the process in case a member has trouble with the machine.
Since then, cash and check options have been available only through Western Union, which can be found at H-E-B and Dollar General stores, with a $1.50 service fee attached. Payments also can be made at Walmart and CVS stores via MoneyGram, also with a $1.50 service fee.
After hearing complaints from members, Oakley spent an afternoon in the Marble Falls office. He reported his findings at the December board meeting.
“I went to the Marble Falls office and had two people come in within 10 minutes to pay their bills because the kiosk wasn’t working right,” Oakley said in December about the outdoor, drive-through kiosks. “I think it’s important we focus on the members. This is a member-owned co-op. I think members ought to be able to come in and pay bills like they have in the past.”
After a lengthy discussion, the board voted 5-2 against a motion to reinstate the cash and check option but instructed staff to take another look at how PEC was reorganizing district offices. Oakley and District 4 Director Travis Cox both voted for Oakley’s motion.
The answer is an indoor pay station that will take a variety of payments, including cash and checks.
The new arrangement is completely set up in the Cedar Park office, with Marble Falls, Bertram, and other district offices in the process. Each will have member seating areas, a pay station, a staff person to assist if needed, iPads for those who want to sign up for automatic withdrawals or other types of electronic payment, and prepaid envelopes for mailing.
Other physical changes to the buildings will affect planning and engineering employees, who will have offices inside.
“That won’t be done in February,” Parsley told the board. “What affects the members, we are going to have that done by the end of February.”
IN OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS
Parsley noted that the co-op held its first-ever human resources recruiting event, hiring nine new apprentices for this year’s class, which is now underway.
Also, the window to apply for scholarships for high school seniors and adults returning to school opens Feb. 1 and closes March 21. Applications will be available online. Learn more on the PEC website.
In board election news, each director was asked to name a person from their district to serve on the Qualifications Election Committee, which will meet from April 5-6 to review candidate applicants. This year, districts 2 and 3 are up for election. Those seats are currently held by Emily Pataki and board President Mark Ekrut, respectively.
https://www.austin360photography.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/wp-header-logo-69.png7681024lukehttps://www.austin360photography.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Austin-360-Photography-Text-Logo-final.pngluke2023-01-24 07:00:512023-01-24 07:00:51Bill pay to return to PEC lobbies in February
Llano County enacted a burn ban during the Commissioners Court’s regular meeting on Monday, Jan. 23. Rain is expected to fall on Monday night into Tuesday morning but would not be enough to douse the fire danger, the county said.
Commissioners unanimously voted for the ban after hearing county Emergency Management Coordinator Gilbert Bennett’s assessment of current fire risk conditions.
High winds, dry vegetation, and the lack of recent rainfall have created potentially dangerous conditions that warrant a burn ban, he told the Commissioners Court.
“We’ve had a couple of days of red flag warnings where the winds have got up to the 25- to 45-mile-an-hour range,” Bennett said.
Fire chiefs for the Valley Spring and Kingsland volunteer departments supported the ban.
A half-inch to an inch of rain is expected early Tuesday morning, according to the National Weather Service, but Bennett said that would not be enough to push the county out of fire danger. Winds are also predicted to reach 40 mph on Tuesday evening.
“You need to have eyes and watch your neighbors who aren’t aware that the burn ban is on,” Bennett told DailyTrib.com after the Commissioners Court meeting. “Just restrict your burning until we receive more rain.”
https://www.austin360photography.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/wp-header-logo-68.png150150lukehttps://www.austin360photography.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Austin-360-Photography-Text-Logo-final.pngluke2023-01-24 05:09:392023-01-24 05:09:39Llano County puts burn ban in place despite incoming rain
After serving the Marble Falls Independent School District for nearly eight years, outgoing Superintendent Dr. Chris Allen will deliver his official letter of resignation at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, during a special meeting of the MFISD Board of Trustees. A community farewell party is scheduled that same day to give residents a chance to say goodbye to Allen. Staff photo by Nathan Bush
At that meeting, Naumann spoke about Allen’s tenure.
“You have not just impacted the school district, but the entire community is different because of your leadership, your love, and your dedication to the kids,” Naumann told Allen during the meeting. “That impact may not ever be able to be measured because it will have ripples across generations.”
In his nearly eight years on the job, Allen guided the district through extreme weather and a global pandemic.
“When I look over the last six years since I’ve been here, I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished, even though we’ve had a pandemic, a snowstorm, and a flood,” Marble Falls High School Principal Damon Adams said at the meeting. “Under the leadership of Dr. Allen, with (the board’s) oversight, not only have we risen above it, we’ve actually thrived in a lot of ways.”
Check agendas and websites to see if the following government meetings are in person, virtual, or both. Agendas are posted 72 hours before a meeting so are not always ready by the time this list is published. Check links for more information.
reappointment of Roy Hallmark to Emergency Services District 7 board
discussion and action on burn ban for unincorporated areas of Burnet County
discussion and action on agreement with Marble Falls Independent School District to provide resource officer for Spicewood Elementary School
discussion and action on applying for grants through programs such as Violence Against Women Justice and Training Program, DJ-Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program, and State Homeland Security Program
https://www.austin360photography.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/wp-header-logo-66.png150150lukehttps://www.austin360photography.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Austin-360-Photography-Text-Logo-final.pngluke2023-01-21 19:51:422023-01-21 19:51:42GOVERNMENT MEETINGS: For the week of Jan. 23, 2023
Central Texas Water Coalition President Jo Karr Tedder speaks to a group of area business leaders about water issues during a roundtable in Lakeway on Thursday, Jan. 19. Staff photo by Nathan Bush
State Sen. Donna Campbell plans to file a bill during the current Texas legislative session to add two elected, at-large seats to the Lower Colorado River Authority Board of Directors, members of her staff told those attending a roundtable on water issues in Lakeway on Thursday, Jan. 19. Currently, the LCRA board consists of 15 members appointed by the governor.
“The reason that we’re doing this is because we think it will allow (the public) to have a bigger voice and a little bit more transparency on the water management plan,” said Ashley Smothers, the legislative director for Campbell’s congressional office.
The Central Texas Water Coalition hosted the roundtable for area business leaders. Presenters spoke about the region’s water issues, including how droughts impact the local economy, and expressed ways the public can help ensure the vitality of the Highland Lakes.
The bill regarding elected LCRA seats will be filed later in the legislative calendar, said Carrie Smith, Campbell’s chief of staff. State Rep. Ellen Troxclair, who represents Burnet County, will file the House version.
“Once the bill is set for a hearing, we really need (the public) to come up and testify in favor of the bill,” Smith said. “We don’t necessarily need people to come up and speak on the bill, but you can also register your support or send in written testimony to the committee.”
Coalition Vice President Ron Doughty opened the meeting by warning audience members about the economic consequences of historic droughts.
“If we experience another drought along the levels of 2008 to 2015, we’ll see a reduction of the (gross domestic product) in Texas of up to $117 billion and a loss of up to a million workers,” he said.
To protect the health of the Highland Lakes, Doughty challenged the LCRA to revisit its water management plan, which was drafted in 2020.
“With the unpredictable and extreme shifts in weather conditions, we’re not immune from extended droughts,” he said. “Business-as-usual management policies of the lakes no longer work.”
Dr. John W. Nielsen-Gammon, a state climatologist and researcher at Texas A&M University, used historical data and computer models to illustrate the state of water in Central Texas.
“Temperatures have gone up in the state of Texas by 1.5 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century, and they’re projected to continue going up,” he said. “If that trend continues and the projections are similar to what the historical trend has been, we’re going to continue to see higher and higher temperatures.”
Steady increases in temperature mainly affect evaporation, Nielsen-Gammon said.
“The problem is, with higher temperatures, evaporation happens faster,” he said. “Things dry out faster; plants undergo water stress faster; and the demand for water increases.”
The region might soon have to rely on random weather events to keep the lakes from drying out, Nielsen-Gammon said.
“My fear is it will become increasingly a matter of water roulette,” he continued. “We may not be able to count on regular runoff to do its job. We might have to rely on heavy rainfall events and occasional floods that dramatically refill lakes and replenish the water supply.”
To prevent Nielsen-Gammon’s scenario from becoming reality, coalition President Jo Karr Tedder encouraged business leaders to challenge the LCRA.
“We have to be more assertive about reaching out to the people who have the voice that legislators and the LCRA will hear,” she said. “It’s not going to be a little grandmother on the lake. It’s going to be you as business people.”
Learn more about the Central Texas Water Coalition’s mission on its website.
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More than 25 volunteer dentists will provide free dental care during a Texas Mission of Mercy clinic Feb. 24-25 at Marble Falls High School, 2101 Mustang Drive. Patients will be cared for on a first-come, first served basis.
Doors will open at 6 a.m. and close at 3:30 p.m. on both days.
The clinic is open to residents of all ages for basic, pain-relieving, and preventive procedures.
“Our volunteer dental professionals’ primary focus is on relieving pain and preventing infection by providing extractions, fillings, and limited hygiene,” said Texas Mission of Mercy Chair Dr. Doug Bogan in a media release. “We are truly grateful to provide this level of care as we come out of the global pandemic.”
Volunteers will not perform procedures such as root canals, dentures, teeth whitening, implants, veneers, crowns, or bridge work.
Along with the dentists, more than 250 volunteers will be working the event.
“People are in pain and our volunteers are helping them heal,” Bogan said. “These volunteers come from all over Texas and beyond to care for those in need.”
Founded in 2001, the group has held 85 events across the state, providing care to more than 50,000 patients.
https://www.austin360photography.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/wp-header-logo-64.png150150lukehttps://www.austin360photography.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Austin-360-Photography-Text-Logo-final.pngluke2023-01-21 06:11:152023-01-21 06:11:15Free dental clinic for all ages Feb. 24-25
The newly formed Lake Buchanan Communities Alliance brought together dozens of Lake Buchanan residents in Llano in September after the Lower Colorado River Authority proposed lease price hikes for property owners’ associations. The LBCA will hold its first regular meeting on Jan. 23. File photo
The Lake Buchanan Communities Alliance holds its first-ever regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23, in the Lakeshore Branch Library, 7346 RR 261 in Buchanan Dam. It will focus on organizing new members, addressing goals, and delving into Lower Colorado River Authority issues.
Regular meetings will be held on the fourth Monday of each month, January through October.
Membership applications will be accepted on site, but anyone can attend the meetings. Regular memberships will be offered to property owners’ associations, civic organizations, and businesses in the Lake Buchanan area. Associate memberships may be granted to others.
Annual dues are set at $100 for regular members and $50 for associate members. Regular members will have full voting and speaking rights; associate members will have full speaking rights.
“We’re definitely excited,” alliance Secretary Marci O’Brien told DailyTrib.com. “Our main goal is to be a bigger voice for all the small neighborhoods and maybe even small businesses in the area.”
Contact the Lake Buchanan Communities Alliance with questions at 512-775-3689, 512-769-3872, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The following people were arrested and booked into the Burnet County Jail during the period of Jan. 13-19, 2023, according to Burnet County Sheriff’s Office logs. City of residence and release information are listed when available. This list does not constitute an official court document, and all persons are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Brian Kyle Baize, 42, of Liberty Hill was arrested Jan. 13 by the Granite Shoals Police Department (GSPD): unlawfully carrying a weapon, driving while intoxicated. Released Jan. 14 on $4,000 in bonds.
Craig Dwayne Burkett, 56, of Spicewood was arrested Jan. 13 by the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO): burglary of a building, surety surrender-burglary of a building, failure to appear/status-driving while license is invalid.
Shelly Lee Burleson, 43, of Marble Falls was arrested Jan. 13 by BCSO: possession of a controlled substance. Released Jan. 15 with credit for time served.
Ramon Compean, 33, of Marble Falls was arrested Jan. 13 by the Marble Falls Police Department (MFPD): public intoxication. Released Jan. 14 on a $500 bond.
Clayburn Issac Dingler III, 37, of Bertram was arrested Jan. 13 by the Bertram Police Department (BTPD): expired driver’s license. Released same day with credit for time served.
Andres Flores-Ramirez, 38, of Granite Shoals was arrested Jan. 13 by MFPD: driving while intoxicated.
Alfonso Saint Gallardo, 52, of Burnet was arrested Jan. 13 by the Burnet Police Department (BPD): expired driver’s license, driving while license is invalid, failure to maintain financial responsibility.
Flora Ann Hashaw, 35, of Burnet was arrested Jan. 13 by BCSO: possession of a controlled substance, expired registration, open container-driver.
Stephen Dale Jennings, 63, of Burnet was arrested Jan. 13 by an outside agency: official oppression.
Justin Joel Knight, 32, of Kingsland was arrested Jan. 13 by BPD: expired driver’s license, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving while license is invalid. Released Jan. 17 on personal recognizance.
Caleb Benjamin Larranaga, 23, of Austin was arrested Jan. 13 by the Cottonwood Shores Police Department (CSPD): possession of a controlled substance.
James Michael Laurin, 57, of Liberty Hill was arrested Jan. 13 by BCSO: insufficient bond-possession of a controlled substance.
Kasey James Martin, 42, of Kingsland was arrested Jan. 13 by BCSO: insufficient bond-possession of a controlled substance.
Travis Gaines Pafford, 21, of Burnet was arrested Jan. 13 by BCSO: insufficient bond-possession of a controlled substance. Released Jan. 16 on $50,000 bond.
Dennis Wayne Price II, 43, of Kingsland was arrested Jan. 13 by an outside agency: Llano County detainer.
Richard Gene Ray, 57, of Bertram was arrested Jan. 13 by BCSO: possession of a controlled substance.
Israel Sanchez, 32, of Dallas was arrested Jan. 13 by BCSO: fraudulent use/possession of identifying information.
Bradley Sean Shuffield, 32, of Burnet was arrested Jan. 13 by BCSO: abandoning/endangering a child-criminal neglect, bail jumping/failure to appear, credit/debit card abuse, theft of property, failure to appear-theft of property, forgery of a financial instrument, failure to appear-aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, failure to appear-aggravated assault on a peace officer. Released Jan. 15 on $210,000 in bonds and personal recognizance.
Lee Alan Stahr, 63, of Round Mountain was arrested Jan. 13 by BCSO: insufficient bond-manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance.
Michael Forrest Tupper, 21, of Granite Shoals was arrested Jan. 13 by BCSO: insufficient bond-possession of a controlled substance.
Andres Flores-Ramirez, 38, of Granite Shoals was arrested Jan. 14 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): detainer.
Cory Daniel Hisey, 37, of Marble Falls was arrested Jan. 14 by MFPD: criminal trespass.
Caleb Benjamin Larranaga, 23, of Austin was arrested Jan. 14 by BCSO: U.S. military desertion.
Alejandro Arenas-Garcia, 26, was arrested Jan. 15 by ICE: detainer. Released Jan. 17 to ICE.
Jose Cortez-Elizando, 46, was arrested Jan. 15 by ICE: detainer. Released Jan. 17 to ICE.
Stacey Melvin Davis, 32, of Marble Falls was arrested Jan. 15 by GSPD: aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of drug paraphernalia.
Cristian Gutierrez-Castro, 28, was arrested Jan. 15 by ICE: detainer. Released Jan. 17 to ICE.
Israel Guzman, 27, of Kingsland was arrested Jan. 15 by MFPD: public intoxication. Released Jan. 16 on $500 bond.
Jonata Hernandez-Montanez, 24, was arrested Jan. 15 by ICE: detainer. Released Jan. 17 to ICE.
Alfonso Luna-De Jesus, 40, was arrested Jan. 15 by ICE: detainer. Released Jan. 18 to ICE.
Moises Monsivais-Gurrola, 32, of Austin was arrested Jan. 15 by ICE: detainer. Released Jan. 18 to ICE.
Ernesto Palma-Soto, 36, of Kyle was arrested Jan. 15 by ICE: detainer. Released Jan. 17 to ICE.
Eleazar Quintero-Osorio, 28, was arrested Jan. 15 by ICE: detainer. Released Jan. 18 to ICE.
Luciano Salazar-Cabrera, 33, was arrested Jan. 15 by ICE: detainer. Released Jan. 16 to ICE.
Jonathon Michael Schwab, 31, of Kingsland was arrested Jan. 15 by BCSO: driving while license is invalid. Released Jan. 16 on $3,00 bond.
Laurel L. Tillery, 33, of Burnet was arrested Jan. 15 by BPD: motion to adjudicate guilt-aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Released Jan. 18 on $20,000 bond.
Mario Vasquez-Gonzalez, 26, was arrested Jan. 15 by ICE: detainer. Released Jan. 17 to ICE.
Hermilo Vilchis-Sanchez, 43, was arrested Jan. 15 by ICE: detainer. Released Jan. 17 to ICE.
Dawn Marie Baublit, 55, of Granite Shoals was arrested Jan. 16 by GSPD: driving while intoxicated.
Jesus Flores-Martinez, 25, was arrested Jan. 16 by ICE: detainer. Released the same day to ICE. Released Jan. 18 to ICE.
Andres Flores-Ramirez, 38, was arrested Jan. 16 by ICE: detainer. Released the same day to ICE. Released Jan. 17 to ICE.
Andrew James Parsley, 52, of Marble Falls was arrested Jan. 16 by BCSO: failure to appear-assault causing bodily injury, failure to appear-terroristic threat causing fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Released Jan. 18 on $8,500 in bonds.
Orlando Pineda-Marroquin, 50, was arrested Jan. 16 by ICE: detainer. Released the same day to ICE.
Nicole Marie Hendrick, 46, of Horseshoe Bay was arrested Jan. 17 by CSPD: possession of a controlled substance, capias pro fine-failure to provide proof of financial responsibility.
Ricky Don Kincaid II, 49, of Marble Falls was arrested Jan. 17 by MFPD: assault by contact-family violence. Released Jan. 18 on $500 bond.
Robert Dewoyne Lotts, 40, of Centerville was arrested Jan. 17 by BPD: driving while license is invalid. Released Jan. 18 on $1,500 bond.
Samuel Alba Martinez, 38, of Marble Falls was arrested Jan. 17 by MFPD: public intoxication. Released same day on personal recognizance.
Chanel Nichole Stone, 37, of Burnet was arrested Jan. 17 by BPD: driving while license is invalid. Released same day on $1,500 bond.
Thompson Lee Wagner, 30, of Burnet was arrested Jan. 17 by BTPD: driving while intoxicated. Released Jan. 18 on $5,000 bond.
Kyler Nathaniel Allen, 19, of San Marcos was arrested Jan. 18 by the Llano County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO): detainer.
Derrick Kendell Burns, 36, of Marble Falls was arrested Jan. 18 by BCSO: bail jumping/failure to appear.
Marian Padureanu, 42, of Austin was arrested Jan. 18 by ICE: detainer.
Randall Bryon Sankey, 54, of Marble Falls was arrested Jan. 18 by BCSO: theft of material-aluminum/bronze/copper/brass.
Melissa Amber Torres, 41, of Christoval was arrested Jan. 18 by BCSO: failure to appear-assault causing bodily injury.
Charles Wayne Barr Jr., 54, of Burnet was arrested Jan. 19 by BCSO: assault by contact-family violence. Released same day on $500 bond.
Jesse Wayne Campbell, 31, of Kingsland was arrested Jan. 19 by BCSO: assault. Released same day on $500 bond.
Eric Donquinn Conely, 34, of Burnet was arrested Jan. 19 by BCSO: commitment-possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance.
Casey Lawrence Edick, 41, of Pflugerville was arrested Jan. 19 by BCSO: bond revocation-evading arrest/detention with a vehicle.
Casey Lawrence Edick, 41, of Pflugerville was arrested Jan. 19 by an outside agency: failure to appear-unauthorized use of a vehicle, theft of property, failure to appear-criminal trespass.
Leah Danielle Goff, 30, of Leander was arrested Jan. 19 by BCSO: SRA-fraudulent use/possession of identifying information. Released same day on $5,000 bond.
Joshua Mitchell Jones, 40, of Bertram was arrested Jan. 19 by BCSO: SRA-possession of a controlled substance.
Mandy Renee McMeans, 41, of Burnet was arrested Jan. 19 by BCSO: bond revocation-claiming lottery prize fraudulently.
Melissa Amber Torres, 41, of Christoval was arrested Jan. 19 by an outside agency: capias pro fine-failure to appear/bail jumping, capias pro fine-failure to maintain financial responsibility.
Steven Kirk Trujillo, 66, of Beulah, Colorado, was arrested Jan. 19 by BCSO: bond revocation-possession of a controlled substance.
Cody Rahe White, 40, of Johnson City was arrested Jan. 19 by BCSO: theft of property.
https://www.austin360photography.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/wp-header-logo-62.png150150lukehttps://www.austin360photography.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Austin-360-Photography-Text-Logo-final.pngluke2023-01-20 23:20:522023-01-20 23:20:52Burnet County Jail bookings for Jan. 13-19, 2023
The Marble Falls City Council approved over $425,000 to revamp the RR 1431-U.S. 281 intersection as part of a $4.27 million project by the Texas Department of Transportation. Staff photo by Nathan Bush
The intersection at RR 1431 and U.S. 281 in Marble Falls will receive a $4.27 million makeover by the Texas Department of Transportation. The Marble Falls City Council approved over $425,000 in matching funds for the project, which will make the intersection more user-friendly for large vehicles. The vote came during the council’s regular meeting Tuesday, Jan. 17.
Plans for the project include realigning the two roads to ensure northbound drivers on U.S. 281 can easily turn right onto RR 1431. Currently, drivers of large vehicles, such as semi-trucks, struggle to make the turn because of the angle of the intersection.
“When (truckers) try to make the turn, they can’t if someone is in the left-hand turn lane (on RR 1431) because they have to swing so wide due to the acute angle of the intersection,” Mayor Richard Westerman told DailyTrib.com.
The city had to approve its portion of funds for the project to avoid being sued by the state.
“This is not a city project,” Councilor Dave Rhodes said. “This is a state project. We don’t have the ability to say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ That’s not within our purview. We could have said no, and they could have taken us to court.”
Talks regarding the project have been underway for over five years.
“We’ve seen it coming for a long time, so it’s been in our budget,” Rhodes said. “It’s not a surprise.”
Westerman believes the project will help prevent large vehicles from using city roadways.
“If those trucks can’t make the right-hand turn (onto RR 1431), and they need to go that direction, they’re going to use city streets, which, in the long term, will cost our taxpayers repairs on those streets when it’s really TxDOT’s responsibility,” Westerman said.
No timetable exists for when construction will begin.
A map showing the location of three large irrigation districts that purchase water from the Lower Colorado River Authority for rice farming. The LCRA Board of Directors raised rates for those customers at a recent meeting. Courtesy image
The Lower Colorado River Authority is increasing the rates for its interruptible water customers to cover the rising cost of service for delivery to rice farms in the Gulf Coast region. The LCRA Board of Directors heard details of the rate increase and other changes during its Water Operations Committee meeting and then approved the updated contract rules and rates at its regular meeting, both on Wednesday, Jan. 18.
The changes affect the Gulf Coast, Lakeside, and Garwood agricultural divisions. Rates vary for Garwood, which is not subject to river management costs in its contract.
Lakeside and Gulf Coast water rates increased by 7 percent to $74.20 per acre-foot from $69.44 per acre-foot — $4.88 more for each acre-foot. An acre-foot of water equals 325,851 gallons.
Garwood will now pay $1.91 more per acre-foot after a 4.7 percent increase. Because lifts are needed in drier times to get the water to Garwood, that district pays three different rates, all of which increased.
The weighted average for Garwood is $42.46 per acre-feet, up from $40.55. The rate is calculated based on whether one lift is required or two. One lift is $41.04 per acre-foot; two is $48.64.
The LCRA also changed the date set to determine whether an agriculture user will receive water for a second crop. The date was moved from June 30 to June 15.
New rules also changed the number of days to deliver water from six to eight. With a dry river, it takes longer to pump the water from the river to the farm.
“We will continue to deliver just as soon as we can, but we need to make sure we have enough time to get the water there,” Vice President of Water Operations Kelly Payne told the board in his presentation.
Another change adds a $5-per-acre-foot charge when a customer orders water but does not take it. LCRA General Manager Phil Wilson called it a “restocking charge.”
“It is not intended to be punitive,” he said. “When a farmer orders water, we go through the steps, and then for no good reason, the farmer decides he doesn’t want it now. This doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does, it’s not a good business practice for us.”
If rain is the reason a farmer declines water they ordered, they will not be charged.
“That’s not something they made a choice about,” Wilson said.
Two comments were received in December during a public comment window: one from the Central Texas Water Coalition in favor of the changes and the other from Garwood Irrigation Co. against the changes.
While approving the changes, the CTWC added in its written remarks that even more needs to be done to regulate how much of the water from the Highland Lakes is sent downstream to grow rice. The coalition pointed out that the drought contingency plan should have been part of the rule-making package and that the $5-per-acre-foot charge for ordering but not using water is not enough.
“This rule change is a small step in the right direction, but it does essentially nothing toward recouping LCRA’s actual financial losses for ordered but not diverted water and it does not prevent the irreversible loss of water stored in the Highland Lakes,” read the comments. “CTWC respectfully requests LCRA’s continuing work to avoid the negative consequences of current OND water management.”
Garwood asked the LCRA to come back to the negotiating table before approving the changes, specifically pointing to the rule change that would allow the LCRA eight days to deliver.
“The longest time allowed for delivery by the operator of the system should be five days, which was the rule in effect for decades when Garwood owned and operated the system,” the letter from Garwood stated.
The new rules approved by the LCRA Board of Directors go into effect immediately.