Currently, Lake Columbia is in Pre Construction Phase activities. These activities primarily include obtaining a 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This permitting process addresses a number of environmental issues such as determining jurisdictional wetlands, evaluating functional habitat, identifying impacts and mitigation of impacts. It will allow for input from state and federal agencies as well as the public. The 404 permit application was filed in the fall of 2000.
This progress report covers the time period from September 2014 to August 2015. The following is a summation of the activities and progress to date.
Meetings were held with Dallas Water Utilities and Tarrant Regional Water District. Dallas Water Utilities notifies ANRA of their intent to put Lake Columbia in its long range water supply plan and to initiate the process of developing agreements for water supply. The context of Dallas Water Utilities interest is predicated on being able to obtain a water supply of 50 MGD.
ANRA and its Board of Directors initiate and finalize Letters of Intent in which existing participants state their intentions for future participation in Lake Columbia. Unofficially, there is enough water supply made available through this process to meet Dallas Water Utilities water supply requirements, however, there are conditions.
ANRA began the process of applying for State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) funds by submitting an abridged application to the TWDB and received an invitation to submit the full financial application using the contract with Dallas Water Utilities as a revenue pledge on the loan. ANRA developed and submitted the 1,267 page SWIFT financial application by the posted deadline.
ANRA and Dallas Water Utilities continued to make progress negotiating the terms of an agreement that meets their requirements and provides the assurances that ANRA and its participants require. Unfortunately, Dallas Water Utilities was not able to obtain approval of an agreement for water supply before TWDB’s financial commitment deadline.
ANRA continues to market unallocated water supply from the Lake Columbia project.
This progress report covers the time period from September 2013 to August 2014. The following is a summation of the activities and progress to date.
With the work in the New EIS halted, ANRA began focusing on developing new water demands for the project by attempting to develop an interruptable short term water supply from Mud Creek. This short term supply would then be used to supply local demands from a perspective industrial development.
ANRA continued to market unallocated water supply from the Lake Columbia project. In addition, ANRA also continued to interact with elected officials both local and statewide to maintain widespread support for the project.
As a result of the marketing efforts of ANRA and others, Dallas Water Utilities has expressed interest in water supply from the Lake Columbia project. As a result, preparations were made for a joint meeting with Dallas Water Utilities and Tarrant Regional Water District.
A meeting with Dallas Water Utilities and Tarrant Regional Water District will take place in the near future. The context of the meeting is to present the project’s status and details associated with water supply availability.
This progress report covers the time period from September 2012 to August 2013. The following is a summation of the activities and progress to date.
The New EIS process in firmly underway. ANRA and its consultants continue to meet with and provide data to the USACE and the 3rd Party EIS Contractor. Purpose and need as defined by USACE continues to be an unresolved issue. ANRA pushes the matter all the way to Southwest Division Headquarters in an attempt to resolve the impasse.
A meeting is held at Division HQ with USACE high level staff members and TWDB staff members participating. The meeting was not productive in resolving the purpose and need issue, the state participation issue or the use of regional and state water planning data.
ANRA is forced to perform a detailed independent study of population and water demands for its participants and water providers within the Neches river basin. ANRA and its consultants perform the study and it is determined that there is not enough demand for new water within the Neches river basin to meet the purpose and need threshold as established by USACE.
The 3rd Party EIS Contractor requested a budget amendment for Phase I tasks which include Introduction, Description of Proposed Action and Alternatives. The Lake Columbia project does not have the funding to approve the budget amendment request. As a result, the New EIS process is officially placed on hold until additional funding can be obtained.
ANRA and its consultants will initiate an all-out approach to marketing Lake Columbia. In order for the project to move forward, a new participant(s) with exhibited water demands and the financial ability to fund the remainder of the EIS process must be found.
This progress report covers the time period from September 2011 to August 2012. The following is a summation of the activities and progress to date.
TRC, the 3rd Party EIS contractor, and its subcontractor began work on the New DEIS. The EIS Contractor team consists of over 20 professionals in the environmental permitting industry from TRC Solution, URS Corporation, Wetland Training Institute, Harvey Economics and others.
ANRA and the 3rd Party EIS Contractor began working on purpose and need as required by the USACE. TRC and Harvey Economics will begin to hold bi-monthly conference calls. TRC will develop formal data requests, with the approval of USACE, to begin the process of reviewing ANRA’s need to construct Lake Columbia.
The USACE and the 3rd Party EIS Contractor began working through the process of analyzing ANRA’s publicly declared need for Lake Columbia. This process generated two official data requests, one dealing with purpose and need and the second dealing with physical aspects of the project. ANRA and its consultants spent dozens of hours developing the responses to USACE and the 3rd Party EIS Contractor. The process hit a major hurdle with regard to purpose and need.
The USACE questions the State of Texas participation in the project and unofficially rejects the TWDB’s regional and state water planning data. Ultimately, the USACE requires that ANRA meet a threshold range for actual water demands of at least 50% but not more than 100% of the project’s water supply. As a result, ANRA renewed the process of marketing unallocated pro rata shares of the project’s water supply to public and private entities.
ANRA and its consultants will continue to press the issue of the state’s participation in the project and the purpose and need it represents. ANRA will also continue to market the project to entities both public and private.
This progress report covers the time period from August 2010 to September 2011. The following is a summation of the activities and progress to date:
After months of preparation and several revisions, the US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) approved the Amended Scope of Work (SOW) on April 27, 2011. This Amended Scope of Work is a detailed document that outlines the tasks that must be completed, the order in which they must be completed and provides for the basic structure of the New Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).EIS Amended Scope of Work
|Task No.||Task Description|
|2.||Description of Proposed Action;|
|4.||Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences;|
|5.||Impact Minimization and Mitigation Measures;|
|6.||Remaining EIS Sections;|
|7.||DEIS Comment Hearings;|
|10.||Development of the Administrative Record;|
|12.||Project Management (to include sub-tasks 12a, 12b, and 12c,
reflecting project management costs for Phase I, II, and III, respectively).
The approved Amended Scope of Work can be found on the Lake Columbia Documents page.
On August 12, 2011, after several months of negotiations and revisions to the proposed contract, ANRA’s Board of Directors approved the contract with TRC Solutions for creation of the Draft EIS and the Final EIS. This Amended Scope of Work was the basis for contract negotiations with the 3rd Party EIS Contractor. The estimated cost to complete the New DEIS and the Final EIS is $1.374 million. With mutual agreement between USACE, ANRA and TRC, the contract was separated into three distinct phases in which work would be completed on the EIS.
|Phase I||Tasks 1-3, and 12 a|
|Phase II||Tasks 4-6, and 12 b|
|Phase III||Tasks 7-11, and 12 c|
As a result of USACE’s requirement to create a New Draft EIS, we’re having to go through the tedious process of re-evaluating the all of the studies that have been performed to date. USACE and the 3rd Party EIS Contractor have told us that all of the studies performed to date can and will be used in the new Draft EIS. We have been told that downstream effects to hydroelectric generation at Sam Rayburn Reservoir will require additional study, but to what extent is yet to be determined.
ANRA’s engineering consultants, Freese and Nichols (FNI), have committed to assisting us in this process. Again, USACE and TRC have committed to working through this process as quickly as possible. State and federal regulatory agencies are cooperating agencies and have agreed to actively participate in the permitting process. The primary goal of the cooperating agencies participation is that all technical issues should be resolved during the preparation of the documents. However, this does not mean that the agencies are giving their approval of the EIS or that they agree with the outcomes presented in the EIS.
TRC, the 3rd Party EIS Contractor, has agreed to have all subcontractors under contract and working no later than September 1, 2011. They have already begun working on Phase I activities. Phase I activities are scheduled to conclude by March 2012.
This progress report covers the time period beginning January 29, 2010 to August 17, 2010.
On January 29, 2010, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) published notice of the Lake Columbia Draft EIS public comment period in the Federal Register. The following is a summation of the activities and progress to date:
The initial deadline for submittal of public comments was March 30, 2010. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) were the only state agencies to submit comments. The US Department of Interior, US Department of Energy, and Southwestern Power Resources Association were the federal agencies to submit comments. These agencies did not submit their comments by the March 30, 2010 deadline.
The US Environmental Protection Agency asked for and received four official deadline extensions. Their comments were officially submitted on May 21, 2010. Of the public comments received, the EPA comments were the most critical. The EPA gave the project and the Draft EIS an EU3 rating and recommended that the USACE publish a revised DEIS. The EU portion of the rating stands for Environmentally Unsatisfactory and refers to the project itself and the numeric value of 3 scores the Draft EIS, both of which are the lowest possible ratings that can be given.
Essentially, this means that the Draft EIS will have to be revised and re-published as a draft document. This also means that notice of a new public comment period will have to be published in the Federal Register and a new public hearing will be held. The USACE, the 3rd Party EIS Contractor, ANRA and it’s consultant have already begun the administrative process to accomplish this goal.
The USACE has made the decision that a revised Draft EIS will have to be produced. As part of that process, the USACE has also determined that they will back the project up to what is called the Agency Scoping process. This process is where the state and federal resource agencies have the opportunity to present and discuss what they feel are relevant issues related to the project. Because we have their detailed comments in writing, they will be limited to the issues they have already provided as part of public comments.
Since the close of the public comment period, ANRA has been working with USACE and the 3rd Party EIS Contractor to define the process for moving forward. Because we are being backed up to the agency scoping process, a revised scope of work is being generated and working its way through the approval process. The comments generated during the public comment period will be used as a baseline for making the required revisions.
USACE, in response to the comments by state and federal resource agencies, has solicited the resource agencies to become cooperating agencies. Becoming a cooperating agency has several distinct advantages. First, it means that these agencies will be directly involved with USACE in the creation of the revised Draft EIS. Second, it means that when the revised Draft EIS is published in the Federal Register, there should only be minimal comments by these resource agencies.
As of this date, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Water Development Board, US Fish and Wildlife, and the Environmental Protection Agency have all formally agreed to be a cooperating agency. The agency scoping meeting is scheduled for September 28, 2010.
In addition to the criticisms of the Draft EIS, there were general comments made about the lack of specificity in ANRA’s Mitigation Proposal. Our mitigation proposal is the only document that ANRA owns and has control over. The document essentially describes how ANRA will mitigate for all of the impacts as identified in the Draft EIS. The primary criticism revolved around the concept of identifying specific land to be used for mitigation, a formal process for addressing any threatened or endangered species found during construction, and environmental flow releases.
To address the perceived deficiencies of ANRA’s mitigation proposal, on July 27, 2010, we officially requested that state resource agencies collaborate with ANRA and its consultants to revise its mitigation proposal. As of this date, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and Texas Water Development Board have all agreed to participate in that process. Our first meeting is anticipated to take place by the end of August 2010.
The process for revising the Draft EIS has already begun. USACE has promised that they will step through these previously covered processes as quickly as possible. Realistically, it is possible that the revision process could be complete by the end of calendar year 2010. This would put publication of the revised Draft EIS shortly after January 1, 2011. Based on these events, the following time line is conceivable but not a guarantee:
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At their regular Board of Directors meeting on August 7th the ANRA Board approved the Lake Columbia Water Quality Protection Regulations. The regulations are designed to address watershed protection issues which could contribute to increases in sedimentation and other forms of pollution flowing into the reservoir.
The regulations utilize widely recognized practices for controlling point and non point sources of pollution.
The full text of the regulations are available on this website under "General Project Info"
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Prior to the establishment of this website, ANRA published a newsletter for the Lake Columbia project. Once the website began to fulfill the informational needs of the public, the newsletters were discontinued.
Beginning in April, ANRA will again produce a newsletter for this project on a bi-monthly basis. The intended target audience of this newsletter will be the elected county officials within the five county planning area, participants in the project, state and federal elected officials who represent the planning area constituent base, and others who will be in a position to impact the successful outcome of the review by the US Army Corps of Engineers of the 404 permit application.
An electronic version of the newsletter will be available for public viewing at this website each time they are published.
The Preliminary Draft Environmental Impact Study will be submitted to the US Army Corps. of Engineers Ft. Worth District by the end of April, 2007
Several components have already been submitted as they were completed, but the remainder of the document will be sent in by the end of the month.
ANRA staff and the Board of Directors are continuing work on a final draft version of regulations designed to assure the protection of water quality generated from the Lake Columbia watershed.
When these regulations are finalized, they will be printed at this website.
The recently awarded funding commitment for the Lake Columbia project depletes the funds remaining in this fund.
The Texas Water Development Board is seeking appropriations from this session of the Legislature to replenish this fund which will include additional dollars for the Lake Columbia project.
The Texas Water Development Board voted on February 27, 2007 to award ANRA an additional $5.7 million in loan commitments for the Lake Columbia project.
The funding comes from the State Participation Fund. This commitment is to be utilized for surveying, appraisal, and acquisition of land necessary to construct the reservoir.
The commitment carries a condition as did the previous commitments, in that the funds will not be released until ANRA is successful in obtaining a 404 permit from the Corps. of Engineers which will allow for the construction of the dam.
At its August, 2006 meeting, the ANRA Board of Directors authorized the filing of an application with the Texas Water Development Board for additional loan funding from the State Participation Fund. $5.6 million is being requested in addition to the $10 million previously committed by the TWDB in 2005.
The funds would pay for surveying, appraisal, and acquisition of lands necessary to build the reservoir.
No funds will be released by the TWDB until a 404 permit is issued by the Corps of Engineers, but a funding commitment will hold the funds for the Lake Columbia project.
At their regularly scheduled City Council meeting on July 10, the City of Alto voted to join with other cities and water supply providers within the five county planning area as a participant in the project.
Its participation level will be .5%.
Alto is located in southern Cherokee County along US Hwy 69.
Beginning in February, 2006, archaeologists from Horizon Environmental Services, of Austin, Texas conducted an archaeological survey of the proposed 10,000 acre reservoir site. The purpose of the survey was to search for prehistoric and historic archaeological sites, native and historic cemeteries, historic standing structures, as well as other cultural resources, in order to record any cultural sites that occur within the limits of the proposed Lake Columbia reservoir.
The archaeological survey is an integral and required element of the US Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is being prepared to fulfill the Corps environmental review duties.
During this phase of the project, Horizon performed (1) an archaeological field survey of the impoundment area, (2) a preliminary geomorphological study of the Mud Creek floodplain, (3) historical and archival research at local libraries, historical societies, and other repositories. These investigations were performed to obtain enough information for the Corps. of Engineers to characterize the kind, quality, and number of cultural resources that may be affected by construction of the proposed reservoir.
Field work was completed in May, 2006 and an interim report is being written describing the findings.
The City of Jacksonville and the Angelina & Neches River Authority have recently entered into an Interlocal Cooperation Agreement to preserve instream flows and protect water quality in Mud Creek. This agreement assures that the city will continue to release at least 80% of the wastewater stream released into Ragsdale Creek which flows into Mud Creek below the proposed dam of Lake Columbia.
Over the course of the last three years, the volume of water treated and discharged by the city's two wastewater treatment plants has averaged 2.88 million gallons per day. This agreement will guarantee the continuation of the majority of these flows and will provide a valuable and assured base line flow for this section of Mud Creek.
ANRA expresses its appreciation to the staff and City Council of Jacksonville for their efforts in developing and approving this historic document.
ANRA hosted a meeting on January 20, 2006 in Jacksonville for thirty area water providers from the five county Lake Columbia planning area.
The purpose of the meeting was to begin discussions and preliminary planning for water treatment and transmission of Lake Columbia water.
Discussions centered around possible water treatment plant locations, transmission line routing, and water storage facility locations. An overview of the regional water planning results as they relate to the five county (Smith, Rusk, Cherokee, Nacogdoches, and Angelina) lake planning area were also presented.
Participants were asked to respond to a questionnaire to provide ANRA with information concerning their existing infrastructure and water needs. This information will allow ANRA to begin building a data base on which future discussions on a regional or subregional basis can take place. The utilization of existing infrastructure where practical will allow for cost savings in the final delivery of treated water.
Click to to view the Press Release.
ANRA's engineers for the Lake Columbia project have completed the above named study. An electronic version is available from the TWDB website. The address is:
CLICK HERE for more information
ANRA's engineers have recently calculated the miles of shoreline which will be created at Lake Columbia when it is at its normal pool elevation.
120 members of the public turned out during the course of the six hour Public Scoping Meeting held in Jacksonville.
A number of written comments were submitted at the meeting. The comments still show a significant level of support for the project from individuals within the five county planning area.
Corps. of Engineers officials were able to gain some valuable insights into the feelings of the local population regarding this reservoir project. Local historical experts were also able to provide specific information to the Corps. regarding potential historical and cemetery sites.
A separate meeting was held the following morning with invited state and federal agency personnel to solicit their comments on the scope of the EIS study. The comments were not significantly different than those submitted during the initial 404 application comment period.
ANRA appreciates the cooperation of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and the Jacksonville Public Library for providing excellent meeting facilities for these two meetings.
Written comments will be accepted by the Corps. of Engineers office in Ft. Worth through September 18th.
Action by the Texas Department of Transportation Commission on July 28 officially completes the closure of Farm to Market Roads 2064 and 2750. ANRA had requested the closures at the point where the roadways enter the proposed Lake Columbia. Closure is conditional on the completion of the reservoir project.
The closure of these two lightly traveled roadways will save between $12 and $16 million by avoiding the need to build bridges for these two roadways across the lake. Alternate routes are available and the closures will cause very little driver inconvenience.
ANRA extends its appreciation to the TxDoT Tyler office and to the Commission for their assistance in this lengthy process.
The U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers in Ft. Worth has issued a Public Notice regarding an upcoming Public Scoping Meeting to be held in Jacksonville, Texas on Thursday, August 18, 2005. The meeting will be from 3:00 pm until 9:00 pm at the Norman Activity Center, 526 E. Commerce Street.
No formal presentations will be made at this meeting. The meeting format will be "open house, come and go", with attendees able to visit booths concerning various aspects of the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) process. Topics of the information booths will range from cultural resources, to environmental, water and land issues, and general information. Maps and various project graphics will be available for reference and viewing. Members of the Third Party EIS Study Team, Angelina & Neches River Authority staff, and staff from the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers will be in attendance to answer questions as the public stops by the various information booths.
As part of the EIS procedure, this meeting is required in order to solicit public comments concerning the scope or breadth of the study. The public is encouraged to attend and submit their verbal or written comments to the Corps. of Engineers. Written comments concerning the study scope will be accepted by the Corps. until September 18, 2005.
A full copy of the Public Notice is available on the Corps. of Engineers website at www.swf.usace.army.mil/
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