Lake Granbury water levels a point of concern at Comanche Peak hearing

September 22, 2010

Jack Z. Smith
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Sept. 22–GLEN ROSE — Numerous elected officials, civic leaders and residents of Somervell and Hood counties expressed support for a multibillion-dollar expansion of the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant at a public meeting here Tuesday.

But a series of speakers repeatedly expressed one nagging concern: whether the proposed addition of two 1,700-megawatt reactors would significantly lower water levels on Lake Granbury, which would be heavily tapped to provide cooling water for the new units.

"Such a huge drain on the water reserves does not seem prudent," said Sue Williams, who along with her husband, Joe Williams, cited their concerns. They live on the lake and are members of the Lake Granbury Waterfront Owners Association.

Significantly lower lake levels could hamper recreational activities such as fishing and boating and reduce property values of surrounding residences, some residents say.

Approximately 200 people packed the Somervell County Expo center for a lengthy afternoon meeting held by the staff of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The officials sought comments on the commission’s preliminary finding that there are no environmental grounds to preclude issuing combined construction and operating licenses to Luminant, operator of the Comanche Peak plant, for building the two new reactors, which would more than double the plant’s generating capacity. The plant is four miles north of Glen Rose, the Somervell County seat, and is 45 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

Rafael Flores, Luminant’s senior vice president and chief nuclear officer, sought to reassure residents by pledging that the company would try to minimize the impact on the lake. Estimates in a draft environmental impact statement said that the percentage of time that Lake Granbury is at “full pool level” would drop from 57 percent to 46 percent. The percentage of time that the lake would be 2 feet or more below full pool level would go from 10 to 25 percent. On average, the lake level would be 7 inches lower.

Flores said the actual impact would likely be less.

Numerous speakers said the expansion would provide economic benefits by adding jobs and tax revenues for local government. They also said Luminant has been a model corporate citizen in terms of civic involvement by employees.

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