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Basin authority slated to discuss funding contract

Basin authority slated to discuss funding contract

SRBA chairman wants 5-year agreement with Dallas group

March 18th, 2019 by Jennifer Middleton in Texarkana Region

The Sulphur River Basin Authority's Board of Directors will hold a workshop at 9 a.m. Tuesday prior to their regular meeting at 1 p.m. During the workshop, directors will discuss SRBA's funding contract with the Joint Commission for Program Development, a group of five water districts in the Dallas Metroplex seeking additional water for their growing population.

"What we hope is to work on a longer term comprehensive funding agreement with JCPD," Chairman Chris Spencer said. The current agreement expired in 2018 and it was extended for another year.

"What we want, and what I want as chairman specifically, is a five-year agreement with JCPD and during that five years work on external financing autonomy away from JCPD, not totally away, but we would like to have other sources of independent funding. It is appropriate that as JCPD seeks water availability In the future from the Sulphur River, that they continue to assist SRBA in its funding."

Currently, SRBA is solely funded by the group, except for the Clean Rivers Program, which is funded by the state of Texas. The river authority is required to seek additional funding sources by HB 2180, passed during the last legislative session, which outlined mandates for SRBA. It requires increased transparency with stakeholders and media, board training, seeking additional funding and hiring an executive director.

Spencer said the workshop will give board members an opportunity for input. While attendees can attend the workshop, public comments will not be taken at that time. He said those who have suggestions can speak during the public comment period at the regular meeting at 1 p.m.

Agenda items include hearing a report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Tentatively Selected Plan to reallocate and raise the level of Wright Patman Lake. Spencer said Fort Worth District representatives Rob Newman, Kathleen Spillane and Jodie Foster would make the presentation, which includes a recommendation of 235 feet.

He added that the TSP, funding for which came from SRBA via JCPD, is the next step toward reallocation, which would change the lake's designation from flood storage to water supply.

"We now have a very good idea of what additional water resources will be available for the future needs of Texas," he said.

The board will also present the lone finalist for executive director. They have selected Meg Shelton of Hughes Springs, Texas. She is a 2014 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law and a 2010 graduate of the University of Alabama. She most recently worked for Benefit Concepts in Columbus, Miss. as general counsel for the chief compliance officer.

The workshop and meeting will be held at the Mount Pleasant Convention Center, 1800 N. Jefferson, Mount Pleasant, Texas.

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