$3.7 million will soon be pouring into San Angelo to facilitate an eco-system restoration project for O.C. Fisher Lake. Jason Calder has more on the multi-agency project spearheaded by the Upper Colorado River Authority.
An announcement was made Wednesday morning involving a new multi-million dollar project to restore the O.C. Fisher Reservoir Lake Basin.
"It's about a $3.7 million project that involves not only public but private organizations coming together and forming partnerships for the betterment of the region."
State Representative for District 72 Drew Darby said, "Some of my fondest memories as a child was situated the O.C. Fisher Reservoir and we would all like to see that reservoir come back to life."
The lake ecosystem restoration project will provide funding to treat various types of brush over a 5-6 year period. State Representative Drew Darby says the Concho Valley will benefit because O.C. Fisher will now be a useable water source.
"The cheapest water San Angelo has, out of all the five lakes we have an investment in, is O.C. Fisher. We have 80 something thousand acre feet of water of perfected water rights in that basin and we haven't been able to use that."
The announcement not only means that the area around O.C. Fisher will be improved but also that a West Texas annoyance will be taken out and turned into a valuable energy resource.
Darby said, "One of the contracts that was signed today was between Mesquite Fuels and the U.C.R.A. for the mechanical irradication of the mesquite there in the basin. That's not just taking it out. That's also using that fuel source for energy."
Jack Lauterbach, Chief Operating Officer of Mesquite Fuels and Agriculture, said, "What we're looking at is the process to take something that is considered a nuisance and turn it into something that's productive and beneficial for all of us."
Lauterbach said this would be the first time our area has seen this process, but said it works.
He said, "This is not a new process. It's being used in other parts of the world and other parts of the country but this is the first time it will be used in this part of the country. We have looked at over 20 plants that are doing this so we know the process works."
Overall, Darby agrees it's a great idea.
Darby said, "Because Texas and it's expanding population and business communities are going to need rising energy over the years. This is a great way to kill two birds with one stone, get rid of the mesquite, help our water and provide energy for Texans."
The project will begin sometime this year. The restoration wouldn't be possible without the cooperation between the U.C.R.A., U.S. Corp of Engineers, the city of San Angelo, the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Angelo State University and Mesquite Fuels and Agriculture.