La. Sabine River Authority holding special meeting to discuss water sales to Texas

Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 7:17 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2023 at 1:33 PM CDT
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Southwest Louisiana (KPLC) - The Sabine River Authority of Louisiana is talking about selling water sales to Texas, and they have been for a while.

It’s a controversial issue that has been opposed in the past, but officials say there is good reason to consider it now. The special board meeting is for discussion and is at 1 p.m. Thursday at Cypress Bend Resort.

Louisiana’s SRA has been talking about possibly selling water from Toledo Bend to Texas for about a year and a half.

Executive Director Warren Founds said they’ve been working on a proposed contract with “Aquaduct Partners” for about eight months.

“It’s obvious that the people to our west are looking for water and we are not. We are typically trying to figure out what to do with water and how to get rid of it,” said Founds.

There was major opposition when it came up in 2012, but it’s a complex question with a multitude of issues.

“If you’re going to do a large water sale of any kind it’s pretty much going to come from a reservoir. You have to have a guaranteed amount of water that you could put up for sale,” said Founds.

He said they are giving it serious thought right now because of the need for revenue to maintain and improve reservoir equipment such as generators, plus it could improve the quality of life and economy.

“It is looking to the future, securing the future for the river authority as well as, the revenues from a water sale are some 15 to 20 times more than the revenues that are derived by using the same amount of water for generating electricity,” said Founds.

He said an average year of generating electricity at Toledo Bend takes about 2 1/2 million acre-feet of water, and that they get a little more than 3 million acre-feet a year on average. An acre-foot is equivalent to putting a foot of water on a piece of land the size of an acre.

“This water sale is 600,000, so it’s pretty easy to do the math and I think that pretty much year-in and year-out we have that water available, that much,” Founds said.

He said water could bring in $50 million a year, and eventually the need to generate electricity could perhaps be eliminated.

“We’re looking at kind of the way that operates, in trying to structure a water deal that could either complement that power sale or maybe do away with the power sale, and maybe that would be when financially that we’re just not able to redo the turbines and get enough for the power that’s generated to justify it,” he said.

“If we had a water sale, we could also enhance the quality of life around the reservoir. Maybe it would be doing additional road construction. Maybe it would be providing different water projects here. Maybe it would improve the quality of recreation on the lake,” said Founds.

He said water sales out of state would require approval from two-thirds of six police juries along Sabine River, two legislative committees, the Water Resources Commission and the governor. It could take 30 to 40 years to get there with construction of pipelines and pump stations.

Founds said the special call meeting is mainly for discussion and there will be no vote.

That special meeting is at 1 p.m. Thursday at Cypress Bend Resort. Public participation is encouraged.

Meeting at Cypress Bend Resort
Meeting at Cypress Bend Resort(KPLC)