Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes said he has neither the authority nor the intent to have the city sell water from Lake Brownwood to anyone outside the city.
Haynes made the statement in response to an Abilene television’s Jan. 20 broadcast story about Lake Brownwood.
According to an email from City Manager Emily Crawford’s office:
The station aired a story in its broadcast and published an article on social media that contained numerous inaccurate and misleading statements concerning Lake Brownwood, Haynes said.
“The story created the impression that the city will be selling water outside of Brownwood,” Haynes said. “This simply is not true.”
The City of Brownwood lifted water restrictions in June 2015 when Lake Brownwood reached capacity, Haynes said. “Otherwise, there has been no change in our policy,” Haynes said. “Certainly, we have no intention of selling water outside of our community.”
The broadcast began with the statement, “The mayor wants to sell water from Lake Brownwood, something they haven’t done in years,” the email from Crawford’s office states.
“This is false on multiple levels,” Haynes said in the email. “First, I have no unilateral plan for water sales. In fact, I have no control over the water in Lake Brownwood.
“Any decision regarding whether to sell water belongs exclusively to the Brown County Water Improvement District,” Haynes said. “Additionally, it is simply untrue to claim that water has not been sold from the lake in years.”
Lake Brownwood is the sole water source for all of Brown County, the email states.
The City of Brownwood, the City of Early, Brookesmith Special Utility District and Zephyr Water Supply all sell water to their customers from Lake Brownwood.
The water is supplied to these entities from the Brown County Water Improvement District.
The Brown County Water Improvement District also sells water to lake residents and irrigators.
“Even in the height of the drought, all of these entities were selling water from the lake to their customers,” Haynes said. “We all restricted outdoor watering, but it was never eliminated.”
The Brownwood City Council voted unanimously to remove watering restrictions in June of 2015. Other entities in the region, including the Brown County Water Improvement District, the City of Bangs and the City of Early, also eliminated outdoor watering restrictions near the same time. Lake Brownwood experienced heavy rainfall along its watershed during late spring and early summer, with water levels reaching several feet over the spillway in mid-July that caused flooding throughout Brown County and the City of Brownwood.
Haynes said he was not sure why the television station chose to air a story on the topic at this time since there has been no change in policy.
“I made the remark in the State of the City address that we expected the city to have a good financial year because sales tax is increasing, new businesses are being created or expanded, and we expect water sales to increase due to the lifting of drought restrictions,” Haynes said. “Somehow, this has been misinterpreted. We simply expect water sales will return to normal pre-drought levels. There is nothing more to this issue.”
Haynes said he has received numerous messages from citizens outraged by the television story and social media publication.
“I do not blame them,” Haynes said. “If I thought someone was going to sell water from Lake Brownwood outside of our community, I would be outraged too.”
Haynes said he believes it’s important to address the rumors that were spreading. “People need to know that we are not selling water from Lake Brownwood to anyone other than our residents,” Haynes said.