It shouldn’t be surprising to many that the largest problem the Sabine River Authority has been dealing with the past several months is copious amounts of rainfall, according to Ann Galassi,
Asst. General Manager – Administration for the SRA.
“The biggest thing has been the rain. Lake Tawakoni (in North Central Texas) was 12 feet low. Now it’s three feet low,” she said. “It’s either feast or famine for us.”
She added being in the middle is good for water levels, but if they have to choose between drought or a deluge, It’s always better to run more.
“We’ve been running the hydroelectric generators at Toledo Bend which provides electricity for Texas and Louisiana residents.   More water in Toledo Bend Reservoir also provides a greater water supply resource while creating opportunities for recreation,” Galassi said. “But we’re at the mercy of the weather.”
Created by the Legislature in 1949 as an official agency of the State of Texas, the Sabine River Authority of Texas is a conservation and reclamation district with responsibilities to control, store, preserve, and distribute the waters of the Sabine River and its tributary system for useful purposes. The Sabine River Basin (Basin) covers 21 counties with a population exceeding 600,000 people. The upper limits of the Basin begins just east of Dallas in Northeast Texas and extends more than 500 river miles along the Sabine River to Orange County.
Orange County
SRA’s Authority General Office (AGO), located in Orange County, is where SRA manages oversight of its projects including Lake Tawakoni and Lake Fork in the Upper Sabine Basin, and Toledo Bend Reservoir and the Gulf Coast Pump Station and Canal System in the Lower Sabine Basin.  SRA’s responsibilities include managing the long-term water supply needs of the Sabine River Basin and play a major role in state and regional water planning issues.

In Orange County SRA provides raw water for industrial, municipal and agricultural customers through the 75 mile Gulf Coast Canal System running throughout the County.  Industrial customers include DuPont, Honeywell, Entergy, Firestone, Chevron, Lanxess, Gerdau Ameristeel, NRG and International Paper.  SRA also provides raw water to the City of Rose City.

SRA’s Environmental Services Division provides field and laboratory water quality monitoring and analysis for the Sabine River Basin.  The laboratory located in Orange County is accredited by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and provides testing and analysis for many communities and industries in Orange County.

Toledo Bend Reservoir
Toledo Bend Reservoir forms a portion of the boundary between Texas and Louisiana on the Sabine River.  It was primarily built for the purposes of water supply and hydroelectric generation.  SRA Board of Directors recently accepted a new fifty-year Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license for the Toledo Bend Project.  The Toledo Bend Project is jointly owned and operated by SRA and the Sabine River Authority, State of Louisiana.  The new FERC license permits continued operation and maintenance of the hydroelectric project which was originally licensed in 1963.

East Texas has received an abundance of rain this spring.  For the first time since 2009, the spillway gates located at Toledo Bend Reservoir were opened to pass the heavy rains received and prevent overtopping.  Toledo Bend lake level is currently near full pool elevation of 172 feet and will be drawn down over the summer months to elevation 168 feet generating electricity for consumption during the hot summer months.  Nine of the spillway gates were recently refurbished with two more gates scheduled to be refurbished next year.
The SRA also provides water quality testing for different facilities.
In addition to testing other entities’ water, the SRA’s lab will also test individual residents’ water upon request by calling 409-746-2192.
They also work with water supply contracts with other municipalities and entities, though they are not a regulatory agency.
“Some reservoirs in other parts of Texas that are usually drier than our area are filling up now. Some are still in drought conditions,” she said. “Any water sales from our area will be done through water supply contracts after an extensive process that includes an inter-basin transfer permit that involves public input.  Before any water sales are considered, SRA will make sure the water needs of our Basin are met first.”