• October 24, 2014

Coryell Co. betting on growth to tap into state water money

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Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2014 4:30 am

GATESVILLE — Since Texas voters passed Proposition 6 on Nov. 5, government leaders across the state have been lining up with their buckets for their share of the $2 billion the measure authorized to implement projects in the 2012 state water plan.

Coryell County commissioners are not only rushing to get in line, but also are trying to get a bigger bucket to meet the needs of the expected population growth west and northwest of Fort Hood.

On Monday, the commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution seeking support from the Brazos Region G Water Planning Group, which represents 37 counties including Coryell, Bell and Lampasas, for a new water study.

“The completion of State Highway 9 from Fort Hood and U.S. 190 into southern Coryell County, along with the construction of a regional medical center on Fort Hood … will accelerate the future population growth and water requirements beyond what has been forecast in the past,” the resolution stated.

The current plan, adopted in 2012 to address the region’s water needs through 2060, was based on a study that “significantly understates the magnitude” of population growth around the Army post, the resolution states.

“The population growth estimates were based on the 2010 U.S. Census, which undercounted our population due to deployment (of Fort Hood personnel) overseas,” County Judge John Firth said. “Those estimates are wrong and need to be relooked at.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Coryell County’s population estimate was 75,402 in 2010.

Firth did not want to guess what the actual figures are, saying that is the purpose of requesting a study.

Coryell County has the lowest per capita property tax base of any county in Texas, the resolution stated, “and the many water supply entities do not have the ability to adequately fund a water study.”

By 2060, existing water supplies in Texas are expected to decline by 10 percent, while the state population will almost double to nearly 47 million people, according to the state water plan.

In Region G, the combined population of the 37 counties is projected to increase from about 2 million to about 3.5 million by 2060, according to the plan. Water supplies in the region are expected to drop about 2 percent, while total water demands will jump about 30 percent.

The 2012 plan targets Coryell County for an off-channel reservoir along Cowhouse Creek north of U.S. Highway 84, but Firth said the county wants to take another look at the water supply and projected demand.

Commissioner Jack Wall expressed concern that Coryell County does not have a representative on the Region G board.

“We don’t have a voice in Region G,” Wall said. “We are on the bottom end of the straw.”

If the region is unresponsive to the request for additional study, Wall said, the county will take its case to the Texas Water Development Board, which restructured its membership and may be more responsive.

“This is a different group,” he said of the state board.

“They will come out and visit with us. I am enthusiastic.”

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