There has been a lot of activity since the last newsletter. For those property owners living away from the area, as a result of the severe drought there have been numerous fires in the area. We have been fortunate that the fires in our immediate area are small and quickly extinguished. There have been several larger fires that have made the national news, the worst of which was in Bastrop County. The closest large fire area was in Spicewood along HWY 71. Our fire department conducted a “pass the boot” collection over a weekend and raised approximately $8,000.00 for the Spicewood Volunteer Fire Department to help defray some of the cost of their equipment losses. We are not out of the high fire danger with the dry brush and trees.
The drought being on everyone’s mind I am asking for everyone’s cooperation in conserving water. It is very disheartening to see people running sprinklers every other day, in the middle of the day and having water standing or running off of yards that have been overwatered. The LCRA Board met and has submitted a request to TCEQ to approve curtailment of water release downstream to the rice farming industry if the lakes continue to drop. Unless the area gets a really significant amount of rainfall over the next 4 to 5 months there may be no release for first or second rice crops. The storage lakes, Travis and Buchanan, are reaching historic lows and the various stages of drought contingency plans have been implemented throughout the basin. At this time watering of landscape is to be limited to once a week. Odd numbered addresses can water on Saturdays, even numbered addresses on Sundays and commercial properties on Fridays. The times to water are from 7 p.m. to 10 a.m. and the amount of water should be approximately ½ inch. Starting in October through April watering should be limited to once a week in the Spring and Fall and not at all in the Winter months. If you use a contract lawn maintenance service you need to remind them to comply with watering guidelines. This was to be the year that Lake LBJ would be considered for lowering to allow shoreline cleanup and dock/bulkhead repairs; however, due to the drought and low water levels in Lake Buchanan and Travis, LCRA WILL NOT BE LOWERING LAKE LBJ THIS YEAR.
This brings up another subject of the domestic raw water contracts required for individuals to pump water from the Lake. LCRA has prepared a simplified contract agreement available on their web site or at any of their locations. If you have less than 2 acres of land that you are watering it is a simple form to mark the box with the amount of surface you would be watering and fill out the identifying information and send it to LCRA at the address on the form. A contract will be prepared and sent to you to sign and submit payment. It was announced at the LCRA meetings a couple of months ago that they are entering Phase II of the program and will be teaming with TCEQ for the enforcement of contracts to take public water for personal use.
Our time this year at city hall seems to be centered around water issues, either the lack of rain or the purchase of our water system. As most of you are aware we are in the process of buying the water company. We are scheduled to close on the sale on December 7th, 2011. The TCEQ has given the nod to move ahead with the sale. The City Council will be deciding on an operator’s contract at the November 17th city meeting. LCRA will be reading the water meters for the last time the first week of December. You will be getting a final bill from LCRA for the meter reading in December. Information on emergency contact numbers and billing questions will be addressed after the company selected to operate the system is chosen this next week. This is an exciting and intense time for the Water Acquisition Committee and its Chairman, Bill Murphy. The summer has flown past or perhaps better put “baked” past with non-stop meetings, volumes of paperwork and forms and evaluations of the system, our financial status and future planning for the city. Standard & Poor’s did a review of our financial status and risk. They rated the city as “A+ with a stable outlook”. As a result of the strong rating and the down turn in the financial markets we were able to issue Certificates of Obligation with a 25 year term at 3.82%. With the closure scheduled for 7 December the pace is picking up even more to make sure everything is ready for the switch to the city operating the system. The rumors have been flying that the water rates will be raised when the city takes over the system. Those that have been attending the city meetings saw the passage of the Ordinance addressing water rates and fees. The balance sheet for the water system projected revenues and expenses five years into the future, as a result rates are projected to remain unchanged during that time. It will take a year or two of actual figures to determine what revenues will be needed and adjustments may be made accordingly.
As some of you may remember, the city joined the Coalition of Central Texas Utilities Development Corporation as a sponsoring entity. This was done to give us two opportunities to acquire our water company from LCRA. If the LCRA had denied our individual bid for our system then we would still be part of the Coalition bid. The UDC or Coalition as it is referred to is still working to acquire the remaining water systems from LCRA and facilitate their transition to the individual entities. If you read in the paper that Coalition bids were denied and the members and sponsoring entities are named you will see City of Sunrise Beach Village listed. The activity of the Coalition does not affect our purchase agreement as it is not part of package of systems still up for sale.
On behalf of the City Elected Officials, the employees and numerous volunteers we wish all of you the best over this rapidly approaching holiday season.