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Hays County selects HDR for Water Planning Study

Monday, November 3, 2008 by Jacob Cottingham

Hays County Commissioners last week unanimously agreed to negotiate a contract for a countywide Water and Wastewater Facilities Planning Study with HDR, an Omaha-based firm with offices in Central Texas. The seven applicants to the RFQ had been whittled down to HDR and K Friese & Associates by a county review committee of four chaired by Grants Administrator Jeff Hauff.

 

The two companies had slightly different approaches and scope to the project, but commissioners eventually opted to follow the staff recommendation for HDR. Hauff told In Fact Daily that HDR was selected due to “their approach to the project and what’s required under our grant application.”  He also cited the company’s background, depth and their work in similar projects. Hauff said the organizations impressed him as well as “what they laid out they would do for the project.”

 

HDR is the seventh largest water and wastewater planning firm in the country. The company has worked with the Texas Water Development Board, Lower Colorado River Authority, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, Edwards Aquifer Authority, Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties and three different cities in Hays County.

 

The firm employs more than 75,000 professionals nationwide, including 180 employees in Austin, Pflugerville and San Antonio. HDR also claims the largest water supply planning staff in the state, “working on exactly this type of problem,” said project principal Neil Graf. He noted that in Wimberley, Jacob’s Well stopped flowing “for only the second time in recorded history” while other streams and creeks were also going dry around Dripping Springs. Graf stressed the need to link together individual areas without taking a “one-size fits all approach.”

 

Project Manager Brandon Neal told the court the HDR plan would be integrated into the state water plan, and introduced Dr. Herb Grub, who told the court, “We propose to start your project with a blank slate.”

 

Pct. 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton wanted to know more about how HDR would devise population expectations. Grub said the water board has developed procedure for those who may disagree with them that “involves local data and information about what’s happening on the ground now.”  The Texas Water Development Board uses has a range of projections based upon migration assumptions, he said and looking at subdivision platting applications, utility connections and new industries would provide more insight. Grub said HDR would “Consider a range of projections and then debate them and then settle on one that’s most likely, knowing that it’s a range.”

 

K Friese is based in Austin and managed by President Karen Friese, a member of the City of Austin’s Water and Wastewater Commission. K Friese has worked with LCRA, West Lake Hills, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Austin and Bastrop amongst others. Former LCRA General Manager Joe Beal and Paul Thornhill were the Senior Technical Advisors. Friese introduced her company and played up their partnership with other entities such as PBS&J who she said “have a strong local presence and most recently completed the GBRA regional wastewater facility planning study.”

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