This week's report is filled with good news. A great deal is going on with the Lake Dunlap Restoration Project, and it is all very positive, so let's jump right in.
1) Water District Update. With the engagement of our water attorney, Tony Corbett, we've already made significant progress towards the creation of our Water Control and Improvement District (WCID). We also have a new and much more realistic timeline, as he helped us to see that our hope to get to a November election was really never viable. Mr. Corbett advises us that aiming to get the district all done in time for the May 2020 election is likely very doable.
Lots of work left to do, but the foundational work we have already done, such as collecting owner names, addresses, etc, a database of 200+ supporting landowners from the first petition, organizing our engineering reviews, talks with local political leaders and regulatory agencies - all these will serve us well going forward. Bottom line, the assessment is we are well on track with the district creation.
We've learned quite a bit, including these two big pieces of news:The election will be among registered voters in the district (e.g., waterfront owners) on May 2020. If you have vacation property on the water here, you may wish to move your voter registration for May to the county your lakefront property falls in.We will use ad Valorem values for the assessment basis, rather than linear footage. Even though linear footage is technically permitted, it is rarely used anymore and adopting an ad Valorem approach will solve many problems as well as help us with financing and underwriting for our project.Finally, we have some great news on our "best case" timeline, which is based on the assumption that we don't have a major flood event during construction.
We are hopeful (but cannot promise yet) that we might be able to celebrate the Christmas holidays in 2021 beside a newly-filled lake. Many things could affect that, but it seems quite doable, if there are no floods. To be honest, just having a target date out there feels pretty darned good at this point.
2) GBRA Meeting. We met with the leadership of the GBRA this week and made substantial progress towards a firm cost-sharing agreement. We hope to announce the details of that soon. The negotiations are not yet complete, so we will hold the details until we have a signed agreement and we can share them with certainty. It is definitely fair to say the GBRA is offering to put real skin in the game.
3) Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Meeting. PLDA Board members Doug Harrison and Larry Johnson met with the lead attorney for the TCEQ, as well as their Water District Department Head and members of their staff. With our attorney, Tony Corbett, we walked through the entire list of requirements with them and clarified many points along the way. This was a very positive meeting, and the Commission is definitely looking to be supportive of this project. It is attractive to them and the State of Texas on many levels, not the least of which is the grassroots, bootstrapping nature of what we hope to do.
For those wondering why we are not simply going to the county judge to create our district, it is because under Texas law, if your district spans more than one county, you must be reviewed by the TCEQ. The county judge approach is not available to us, whereas for the other GBRA lakes it is because each of them fall completely within a single county.
4) PLDA Board Meeting. As it does each month, the PLDA Board met on Thursday, and as we have for each of the past three board meetings since the dam broke, we took questions from the audience for more than an hour.
We generally open the meetings with a brief update, then take questions before adjourning into executive session for our normal board business. You can also send your questions to the email below to have them read in the public session. We will do our best to answer all questions.
These are public meetings, and if you have questions about what we are doing to repair the dam and refill the lake, please plan to attend an upcoming meeting. Board meetings are held on the 3rd Thursday of each month at the Riverbend Clubhouse at 6:30 pm
5) PLDA Advisory Board. As you may know, back in June we commissioned a special advisory board to work with us on critical aspects of the work we are doing. The 15 members include engineers, contractors, specialists in bond markets and utilities, and local business leaders. For the past month, they have been hard at work reviewing all aspects of our work. Today, the committee met for the first time to review all that work, ask critical questions, and assess where we are at. I think all of us were quite impressed by the sheer quantity of information, good data, and ideas generated by this group.
We spent almost four hours looking at the creation plans, the engineering work GBRA has done and is doing, our financing options, our relationship with the GBRA, what the other lakes are doing, and much more. The discussion was insightful and thorough, and by the end, it was clear that the consensus is that our project is not just in good shape, but well on track now, with added legal and financial expertise and a very strong likelihood of success.
We have not talked much about the Advisory Committee to date because all the subcommittees -- application and creation process workgroup, the technical (engineering) workgroup, the financial workgroup, and the communications workgroups were all deeply engaged in learning as much as they could to help us make decisions. Today was the first time that we were able to bring all that to the table and really see the big picture. While we still have a diversity of views in some areas, and more learning related to that, it is accurate to say that in the big picture, everyone on the committee is supportive of the project's plans and directions.
We plan to bring all that to the next town meeting, which is the final bit of news:
6) 2nd PLDA Lake Dunlap Preservation Project Town Meeting. As there is so much going on, we know property owners and others will have many questions. It seems the right time to hold a second Town Meeting so we can bring our team, the experts we are working with, and local political leaders to update the public and also answer any questions.
This will be a public meeting, and details will be announced broadly as soon as we have them. We hope to have this meeting in September, as early as we can arrange it.
A special section will be reserved at the front of the hall for those that would be affected directly by the district, which are the waterfront property owners.
As always, for the latest and most accurate news about Lake Dunlap, continue to look to the PLDA. Finally, PLDA remains steadfastly committed to moving forward on all this in the spirit of collaboration, community, and full transparency.
J Harmon President PLDA email@example.com