TRWD board hires outside counsel to study issue of filling two board seats

Posted Tuesday, May. 20, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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The Tarrant Regional Water District board voted Tuesday to hire an Austin lawyer to advise the board on filling two board seats that are set to expire.

After being hired by a 4-0 vote, attorney Ross Fischer told the board he expected to have a recommendation at the June meeting. Board member Mary Kelleher, who was censured by the board last month, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.

Filling the two board seats became an issue after the water district moved its election date from May 2014 to May 2015.

After legal attempts to force the water district to hold an election this year, both the Texas Supreme Court and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the district did not have to call an election.

The 5th Circuit did not take a position on how the water district should deal with filling the two holdover board seats, currently held by Marty Leonard and Jim Lane, but said the board should look at state law to resolve the issue.

Until the situation is resolved, Lane and Leonard will serve as holdovers in their respective seats.

Fischer, who was also hired by the board last month to look at candidates’ campaign finance reports and whether they had complied with law, said that the process is ongoing and that he and his staff have looked at the 2011 election cycle but are still compiling data on the 2013 election.

Even though no election was held this year, Fischer said it is important for those people who declared candidacy this year to file a semiannual campaign finance report by the July 15 deadline.

The district’s staff also briefed the board on dam safety and said none of the recent spate of earthquakes near Eagle Mountain Lake has impacted the dam or spillway.

The district said they have real-time monitoring around the dam and have detected “no changes in pore pressure correlated to earthquakes in the Eagle Mountain Lake vicinity.”

The water district also said it has collaborated with Southern Methodist University scientists on their earthquake study of the Azle area.

At a meeting of the Texas Railroad Commission this month, SMU officials said there have been more than 300 quakes that were strong enough to be recorded by multiple seismic monitors the school has deployed in the area. Twenty-seven quakes have been recorded in the area by the U.S. Geological Survey, but they include only earthquakes that have a magnitude of at least 2.0.

At that same meeting in Austin, Craig Pearson, who was hired in the new position of staff seismologist for the Railroad Commission, said he hoped to have “a definitive statement” about the source of quakes within a year.

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698 Twitter: @fwhanna

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