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NEW BOSTON, Texas—Riverbend Water Resources District's Board of Directors took action to provide a new raw water line to TexAmericas Center during its regular meeting Wednesday.

The board approved the line's final destination site as "Site 3 at TexAmericas Center on Bowie Parkway," as defined by the CH2MHill Regional Water Treatment Feasibility Study. Riverbend had the study done several years ago to help evaluate the current raw intake on Wright Patman Lake, identify alternate intake locations and sites where the water could be pumped for TexAmericas' use.

Riverbend and TexAmericas Center entered a purchase agreement in 2015, with Riverbend agreeing to provide the redevelopment authority with six million gallons of raw water to them within 10 years of the acquisition. Riverbend acquired the wet utilities in 2016 and amended the purchase agreement last month to increase the amount of raw water to 30 mgd by 2026, with an additional 60 mgd thereafter.

The board also finalized the approval of Executive Director/CEO Liz Fazio Hale to sign federal and state permits to pursue a new intake structure on Wright Patman Lake. The resolution, made jointly with the city of Texarkana, Texas, came before the board in January but was tabled. The city council, which met two days before Riverbend, also tabled the motion during its regular meeting, as several council members had questions about the permitting process. A joint workshop was held a week later for both entities and interested parties, and the resolution passed during the city's next meeting.

In other business, the board discussed changes to commercial water rates. Fazio Hale said that water rates will be higher now that they've acquired the wet utilities at TexAmericas Center.

"The reason for that is we're trying to cover any additional needs for the bonds that are outstanding, and those, for some years have not been covered. Our current rates still do not cover our bond commitment, but we do take that out of revenues that are generated under our operations," she said. "As we see large water consumers come to operate at the TexAmericas Center, we will likely take another look at adjusting these down."

An alternative to raising the rates is water contracts with businesses, she added, stating that a report would be given on this item during the March meeting.

Directors also approved Fazio Hale to enter into negotiations and enter into an interlocal agreement or contract for an update of the Water Availability Model in the Sulphur River.

"In order to apply for future water rights in Lake Wright Patman that would be associated with storage availability through the ultimate rule curve, we have to provide certain information to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality," she said. "One of the highly suggested pieces has to do with a water availability model."

They previously worked with the Texas Legislature to get it funded with an estimated cost from $200,000 to $450,000 she said. The last model was run in 1997 and does not show what is perceived to be a new drought of record, which occurred in 2011 through 2012.

"What we're looking at, is there a new drought of record?" she asked. "In order to ensure that water rights are firm, the state has to make sure they're not overpermitting in the basin. It's a highly competitive process."

Riverbend received two proposals, one from Robert Brandes Consulting and another from AquaStrategies and Carollo Engineers. She said cost has not been determined and that right now, Riverbend will be working on a contract with one of the groups.

The next meeting is scheduled for noon March 28 at the Riverbend Offices, 228 Texas Ave., Suite A, New Boston, Texas.

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