John Allen called it “the luck of the draw” that brought him to work for the Brown County Water Improvement District slightly more than 30 years ago.

Allen started out mowing the grass at the water district’s water treatment plant, and he went on to work at every department in the district.

Now Allen, 52, is general manager of the water district.

Allen, a Brownwood native and 1984 graduate of Brownwood High School, previously worked as superintendent of the water plant before the board named him in January to replace former general manager Dennis Spinks, who retired.

“It’s challenging,” Allen said of his job. “I love new challenges. The water district has been really good to me. I’ve got a great board to work for. I learn something new every day, which is basically how it’s been since I’ve been with the district.”

Lake Brownwood has fallen to about 5 feet below the spillway, a level that has triggered Stage 1 of the water district’s Drought Contingency Plan. Stage 1 calls for a voluntary reduction of water use by 5 percent but does not impose mandatory restrictions on outdoor watering.

If the lake falls to 8 feet below the spillway, restrictions on outdoor watering would be imposed in an effort to reduce water use by 15 percent.

“We’re in great shape,” Allen said. “I hope we will not be going into mandatory restrictions this summer.”

Allen said he looked recently at the long-range forecast, which predicts a wet winter. That sounds “great for us,” Allen said.

But it’s a “double-edged sword,” Allen said. “We survive off of water sales,” he said. “We are a regional wholesaler. The general public, ever since the last drought, has really been good with their water usage.

“When I say ‘good,’ that’s a double-edged sword. We sell water, so we like water sales. Last year we were not in drought restrictions at all but our water sales were way down. We like the sales because it generates revenue. There’s a fine balance in there that we’re looking for.”

Allen said he hasn’t encountered any surprises on the job, as his predecessor “did a great job in his time here. He’s left me in really good shape. Dennis is still around and he’s a phone call away if I need him.”

Allen and his wife, Anna, are the parents of two daughters and a son. Anna Allen is the manager of the local Social Security office.