The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority board is once again coming under criticism for not doing anything tangible on rebuilding the Lake Wood spillgate on the Guadalupe River.
This time the criticism is not coming just from members of the Friends of Lake Wood Association.
This time it is coming from the state of Texas through the Sunset Advisory Commission.
In a recent report, the Sunset Advisory Commission slammed the GBRA for three very important issues that FOLW has been raising for years.
In its findings, the Sunset Advisory Commission faulted the GBRA’s aging infrastructure and inadequate asset management, which puts some utility operations at risk. According to the Sunset Advisory Commission, “the authority has not implemented a comprehensive asset management process to ensure timely repair of its significant utility assets. Some of the authority’s infrastructure is failing, either in critical condition or beyond repair, and GRBA faces potential service disruptions for its customers. GBRA will need to balance maintenance repair, and replacement of its existing, aging infrastructure with the need for new development throughout the basin. …GBRA’s communication strategies are not well-coordinated with asset management and operations…”. The Commission recommended that the GBRA develop and maintain a comprehensive asset management plan and to ensure the management plan and process is linked to the authority’s public messaging and communications.
“We’ve known this for some time,” said FOLW member Joe Solansky. “We’ve been saying this over and over but the GBRA has not given us the time of day. It is nice that the state of Texas and the Sunset Advisory Commission agrees with us.”
A second issue the Sunset Advisory Commission faulted the GBRA for was GBRA’s procurement and contracting efforts lack coordination and best practices needed to ensure adequate expertise and best value. According to the Sunset Advisory Commission finding, “GBRA does not have fully centralized oversight of procurement and contracting functions to ensure proper development, tracking, and monitoring of contracts…some of GBRA’s contracting activities do not conform to typical best practices…’’.
The Commission recommended that GRBA take steps to centralized its approach to procurement and contracting, ensure key procurement and management staff receive formal training, and improve contracting activities to ensure consistency and enhance monitoring.
The third criticism said that GBRA should clarify and better manage its relationships with associated nonprofits. Since the GBRA partners with three nonprofits to assist in carrying out GRBA’s educational and conservation activities, the Sunset Advisory Commission found it outrageous that “Nonprofit staff members are also GBRA employees and report directly to GBRA’s general manager as well as their respective boards. This creates a conflict of interest for non-profit staff in balancing their obligations to both GBRA and the non-profit boards.”
The Sunset Advisory Commission recommended “to consolidate the funds it provides to the Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust and San Antonio Bay Foundation to one organization and clearly define expectations tied to this funding”, to create clear boundaries and reporting structures between its staff and associated nonprofits, to evaluate whether the Gorge Preservation Society’s narrow mission justifies GRBA support, and evaluate the continuing need for relationships with any non-profits every five years to ensure the nonprofits are achieving shared goals.
Compounding the issues cited by the Sunset Advisory Commission, FOLW members are extremely upset that the GBRA now wants to move its headquarters from Seguin to New Braunfels at a cost of over $6 million dollars.
“They have plenty of space where they are now, but they want to spend $6 million to move to New Braunfels but they don’t have enough money to repair H-5 (The Lake Wood spillgate),” said James Ryan, and FOLW member. “That’s ridiculous”