November 15, 2023 – The San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) Board of Directors announced today the selection of Aubrey A. Spear, PE, as general manager.
As general manager, Spear will oversee the development and implementation of SJRA’s vision, mission and strategic goals through the collaboration with the SJRA’s Operating Divisions: General and Administrative Services, Lake Conroe, Woodlands, Groundwater Reduction Plan, Highlands, and Flood Management. In addition to providing managerial oversight, Spear will be instrumental in overseeing the development and execution of capital improvement plans, planning, external affairs, leadership development, and budget.
SJRA Board President Ronnie Anderson expressed confidence in Aubrey Spear’s arrival saying, “After a thorough search, the SJRA Board of Directors is proud to welcome Aubrey to SJRA. Aubrey’s extensive experience in water utility management, water and wastewater infrastructure projects, and stakeholder relationships make him a great fit for our team.”
“I am excited to join the dedicated team at SJRA,” said Spear. “I look forward to collaborating with key stakeholders including employees, customers, and elected officials to determine major areas of focus for the Authority moving forward. I am passionate about implementing the river authority’s vision to provide reliable, cost-efficient, and sustainable water resource management that supports the significant growth in the region while earning the trust and confidence of our customers and community.”
Aubrey Spear brings extensive professional leadership and managerial experience to SJRA. He served the City of Lubbock in a senior management role as Director of Water Utilities for 16 years leading the city’s Water Utilities Department of more than 200 employees. Additionally, he served as liaison to multiple water boards including the Lubbock Water Advisory Commission, Canadian River Municipal Water Authority, High Plains Underground Water Conservation District and served as the chairperson of the Region O Water Planning Group and on the executive committee of the Upper Brazos Regional Flood Planning Group.
Spear has also guided public relations, marketing, and customer service activities and facilitated major projects including the city of Lubbock’s first new surface water supply reservoir in more than 25 years, Lake Alan Henry.
Spear will start with SJRA in January 2024.
Aubrey Spear’s appointment comes almost six months after Jace Houston resigned from SJRA at the end of May 2023.
After 16 years with the SJRA, Houston had become the focus of criticism over a groundwater reduction plan designed to reduce subsidence and ensure the water future of Montgomery County. Houston had led the conversion from dwindling groundwater to surface water. That included construction of a water treatment plant at Lake Conroe and several water distribution pipelines.
However, several signatories to the Groundwater Reduction Plan eventually balked at higher prices despite the reduction in subsidence. Conroe state representative Will Metcalf proposed an amendment to the SJRA’s sunset review bill that would have ousted Houston had the state senate supported it.
As Spear prepares to navigate new waters in SE Texas, he will be forced to thread a needle between downstream and upstream interests.
Memories of the SJRA’s role in downstream flooding during Harvey when it released 79,000 cubic feet per second from Lake Conroe will constrain him. So will the reluctance of Lake Conroe residents to live with seasonally lower lake levels. Lake lowering didn’t generate much controversy this year. Because of drought, lake lowering wasn’t necessary.
However, it could in the future if the project to add more flood gates to Lake Houston ever gets off the drawing boards.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/15/23 based in part on a press release from SJRA
2269 days since Hurricane Harvey