This week the Brazos River Authority Board of Directors passed a resolution allowing adjustments and fee waivers for residential and commercial water use permits. The presentation by Michael McClendon, BRA upper basin regional manager, was highlighted with images of low lake levels, particularly at Lake Granbury, and pumps that were out of the water. The policy allows for the waiver of a permittee's water use permit fee and/or commercial facility permit fee when the permittee is able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of BRA that decreased lake levels prevented using water pumping equipment for a period of three consecutive months. The newly adopted waiver policy only applies to the annual or monthly fees associated with water use permits and does not apply to other fees, such as application fees, modification fees, late fees and interest payments. Beginning this year, water use permit fees and commercial facility permit fees will no longer be due at the beginning of the billing year, but will be assessed at the end of the billing year at which time any applicable waivers will be applied. Officials reported BRA invoices approximately 3,806 residential and commercial water use permit holders per year to approximately 1,305 permits at Possum Kingdom Lake, 1,785 at Lake Granbury, 506 at Lake Limestone and 210 at federal reservoirs. "Under state law, lakeside residents must have a contract with the BRA or legal authorization (water right permit) to take water from the lakes," a summary noted. "BRA's existing water permits allow an individual to divert up to 60,000 gallons of water each year.


" Annual invoices were sent to lakeside residents in December 2013. "Current procedures at all our reservoirs require payment or removal of the pump and piping infrastructure by February 2014," the summary continued. "Since then, there have been complaints about payment due to some circumstances where water is not available for diversion. In both the application and the contract, the BRA makes no guarantee that water will be available at any particular time or place or that any reservoir will be maintained at any specific elevation to allow for diversions. "Additionally, while the board discontinued dock fees for residential customers effective Jan. 1, 2014, the board did not consider doing the same for commercial docks. The logic at the time was that these commercial operations are deriving income utilizing BRA land and should continue to pay a fee for operating a business over the lake bed. That said, in many instances at Lake Granbury specifically, and to a lesser extent at Possum Kingdom Lake and Lake Limestone, there are areas of the lakes where the water level does not allow these facilities to operate. Due to the fact that many of these facilities depend on the water level to allow them to operate, the BRA has been asked if it would consider providing relief from the fee at times when the lake level will not allow operation. Like the residential water use permit, the commercial dock agreement does not guarantee that the water will remain at a certain level." The summary included information that BRA staff has developed a process to provide flexibility in certain instances to waive fees when the lake is at levels that do not allow residential water to be diverted or commercial docks to be operated.