Brown County water district directors approve hike in water rate due to rising costs

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Brown County Water Improvement District

Brown County Water Improvement District directors approved a small increase Tuesday in water rates for the 2020-’22 fiscal year and approved a $3.3 million budget.

The district will charge wholesale water customers just over $1.75 per 1,000 gallons of treated water, a 1.84 percent increase over the current rate. While there are no customers buying untreated water, directors set that rate at just over $1 per 1,000 gallons, a 2.8 percent increase.

The rate hike is needed because costs of chemicals to treat the water and insurance are increasing, directors were told.

Before approving the budget — which is 4 percent higher than the current budget — directors opted to keep paying all of the insurance costs for the district’s 22 employees for the new fiscal year. That might change in future yeas as insurance rates climb, directors said.

In other business Tuesday:

• Allen said about 25 adult zebra mussels have been found in Lake Brownwood but the number will grow much higher. Experts say zebra mussel population will “explode," then starting falling, Allen said. It is unknown how much the number will fall.

Allen anticipates having a report from Freese and Nichols engineers next month on the zebra mussel issue as well as on a possible water treatment plant expansion.

• The district is waiting to learn how Brown County will expend $7.35 million the county has been allotted under the American Recovery Plan act of 2021.

The district hopes some of those funds will go toward generators for the district’s two water treatment plants. Brown County Judge Paul Lilly will hold a press conference Monday to explain “the county’s vision” for the funds, Lilly’s office announced.

Brown County has received half of the funds and will receive the second half in May 2022. The funds have been earmarked to strengthen water and sewer infrastructure and expand broadband infrastructure. Funds may also be used to support public health expenditures by funding COVID-19 mitigation efforts and medical expenses, Lilly’s office said.

• Allen said the water district is constructing a concrete landing pad for the Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter in a grassy area near the Lake Patrol building. When the pad is finished, the helicopter can land on it without a requirement for first responders to set up a landing zone, Allen said. 

• Lake Patrol Chief Mark Davis said a flash fire on a boat at the Wild Duck Marina Saturday “could have been a lot worse.” Three children and two adults were on the boat. Injuries — none life-threatening — were reported.

Davis said the boat operator was trying to start the engine after refueling, and fumes ignited.