Governor Abbott Appoints Batson to Gulf Coast Authority Board of Directors

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott has appointed Amber Batson to the Gulf Coast Authority for a term set to expire on August 31, 2023. The Gulf Coast Authority has the authority to provide water systems and control water pollution and waste disposal within the district. In addition, they shall conduct studies and research on the control of water pollution and waste disposal within the district.

Amber Batson of Tomball is a Project Manager and Associate Vice President of Carollo Engineers. She is a corporate member of Texas Water Conservation Association, American Public Works Association, and the Water Environment Federation. Additionally, she is a licensed professional engineer by the Texas Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors and the Florida Board of Professional Engineers. Batson received a Bachelor of Science and Master of Engineering in Environmental Engineering from the University of Florida.

This appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

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If you have any questions regarding this announcement, please contact the Governor’s Press Office at (512) 463-1826.

All GCA Wastewater Treatment Facilities Honored with Prestigious NACWA Peak Performance Awards

HOUSTON, September 7, 2021 – All Gulf Coast Authority (GCA) wastewater treatment facilities were recognized for their 2020 performance by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) with Peak Performance Awards. For the sixteenth consecutive year, GCA facilities were honored by NACWA (with awards being received as far back as 1990 from AMSA, NACWA’s predecessor organization) for excellence in operational performance and permit compliance.

  • Bayport l Wastewater Treatment Facility – Gold;
  • Blackhawk Municipal Wastewater Treatment Facility – Gold;
  • 40-Acre Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility – Gold;
  • Odessa Municipal and Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility – Gold; and
  • Washburn Tunnel Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility – Silver.

“In a year with pandemic challenges, GCA is proud that all of its facilities were nationally recognized for their performance and commitment to protecting the waters of the state of Texas. Our workers provide essential services for our communities, industry, and the environment. And the essential nature of our business was highlighted during the pandemic,” said Liz Fazio Hale, GCA General Manage/CEO.

Peak Performance Awards are provided to outstanding clean water utilities that have demonstrated operational excellence with no more than five permit violations in a calendar year for Silver, and, for our Gold Award winners, zero violations. For nearly 50 years, NACWA has been the nation’s recognized leader in advancing sustainable and responsible policy initiatives that help shape a strong and sustainable clean water future. NACWA seeks to fulfill this mission through its national recognition/awards program, its clean water advocacy and communications, and its peer-to-peer utility network to share best practices from coast-to-coast.

GCA is a governmental entity created by the Texas legislature in 1969 with the broad charge to protect the waters of the State of Texas. GCA has the authority to own and operate regional industrial and municipal wastewater treatment facilities, water systems, and solid waste facilities statewide, as well as the ability to provide bond financing services. For more information, please visit www.gcatx.org.

Media Contact:
Keith Hardcastle, Public Information Officer
(281) 488-4115 | khardcastle@gcatx.org

Gulf Coast Authority’s Technical Services Director Levine to Retire – Sandhu to take role in early 2022

After 40-plus years at Gulf Coast Authority, Technical Services Director Leonard Levine will be retiring, effective February 2022. Jonathan Sandhu, currently Assistant Director – Technical Services, will be promoted to the role following Levine’s retirement.

“Leonard has been instrumental in the many industrial wastewater treatment innovations GCA has pioneered over the past decades,” said Elizabeth Fazio Hale, GCA Chief Executive Officer/General Manager. “His creative approaches and practical solutions – as well as his willingness to share his expertise with others – has burnished both his and the Authority’s reputation for protecting the waters of Texas.”

Levine graduated with a degree in environmental engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1972 just before passage of the Clean Water Act, putting him on the front lines of the revolution in wastewater treatment. From the development of new technologies for sources to building practical applications to training operators, Levine has done it all in almost 50 years in the field. Joining GCA in 1980, he has served as Technical Director for the past 20 years where he has oversight of technology selection, design, and operation for all GCA facilities. He has pioneered many treatment technologies and regulatory efforts, including disinfection methods, emission controls, innovative pH adjustment methods, and produced water regulations.

“Leonard has been instrumental in helping build the Authority’s industry-leading capabilities as GCA grew in its mission,” said Gordon Pederson, GCA’s Chief Technical Officer. “His understanding of process, engineering prowess, and creative flair have helped him and his team problem-solve and develop innovative technological approaches that have since been adopted across the field.”

His service has been recognized most recently with the Water Environment Association of Texas’ (WEAT) Winfield S. Mahlie Award for significant contributions to the art and science of wastewater treatment and water pollution control.

“Being part of the early days of industrial wastewater treatment – and particularly serving in the only large industrial wastewater treatment entity in the U.S. – has made for a fascinating career,” Levine said. “Looking back, there are many firsts to be proud of – GCA truly was and is a pioneer in this space. I am excited to see what the future holds in the wastewater and water treatment arena and look forward to GCA continuing its tradition of cutting-edge approaches to balancing the environment and the economy.”

Upon Levine’s retirement, Sandhu will be promoted to Technical Director. He joined GCA in 2020 from Brown and Caldwell, where he was Industrial Water Chemical and Energy lead, providing water/wastewater treatment consulting to refineries, chemical and petrochemical facilities, and served as its Houston Office Leader.

Gulf Coast Authority (www.gcatx.org) was created by the Texas Legislature in 1969 to protect the waters of the state of Texas through environmentally sound, economically feasible and technologically advanced wastewater and water management practices. GCA provides regional industrial and municipal wastewater treatment services, solid waste management, industrial water services, and financial services – all with the goal to protect the environment, preserve water resources, and promote industrial development for a strong economy.

Traweek Named to Gulf Coast Protection District

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has named Lori Traweek, former General Manager of the Gulf Coast Authority, to the Gulf Coast Protection District (GCPD) Board of Directors. The GCPD Board will be compromised of six Governor appointments and five appointees with one from each of the following counties: Orange, Jefferson, Chambers, Harris, and Galveston. The Texas Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 660 related to the creation of the District to operate and leverage funding for the unique flood control and surge protection system needed to protect coastal industry and communities.

The coastal protection project is anticipated to be the largest civil works project for the Army Corps of Engineers in US history. The District will be expected to leverage up to $30 billion in federal funds for the benefit of projects in the aforementioned coastal counties. As Texas ports handle approximately 65% of all US cargo and produce, the funds are designated to protect not only the Texas coast but also the national economy.

“This project will go down in history as one of the most significant measures to protect Coastal Texas, its citizens, and the economic activities this region provides,” said Governor Abbott. “Strengthening our coastal regions and ports is vital not only to Texas but to the entire nation.”

“I am honored to be named by Governor Abbott to serve on the board of the Gulf Coast Protection District,” said Traweek. “It is a unique opportunity to serve our citizens, our industry, and the environmental needs of this important coastal region.”

Traweek is the current Chair of the Galveston Bay Foundation, President of the Texas Conservation Fund, and board member of the Texas Water Trade.

The Office of the Texas Governor news release can be found here.

Gulf Coast Authority Board of Directors Recognizes Employees

Gulf Coast Authority (GCA) Board of Directors passed resolution 2021-02 recognizing and honoring employees for their efforts during the winter storms of February 2021. The resolution states, “GCA employees exhibited exceptional commitment, expertise, and great teamwork that foster safe and rapid recovery of GCA facilities under these extraordinary circumstances.”

Winter storms Uri and Viola hit Texas hard in February of 2021, leaving millions without power and water. As citizens struggled to stay warm and find potable water supplies, GCA employees were on the frontline serving communities and industries to keep our environment clean of unpermitted wastewater discharges.

“It is times like these that we must recognize the heroic efforts of our employees who are essential workers,” said Frank Jones, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Our personnel are essential workers who worked to meet the mission under very challenging circumstances,” added Liz Fazio Hale, CEO/GM. “For that we are all very thankful.”

RESOLUTION 2021-02 RECOGNIZING AND HONORING GCA EMPLOYEES FOR THEIR EFFORTS DURING THE WINTER STORMS OF FEBRUARY 2021

STATE OF TEXAS
COUNTY OF HARRIS

WHEREAS, in mid-February 2021, the State of Texas experienced back-to-back Winter Storms Uri and Viola which brought unprecedented low temperatures and state-wide power outages; and

WHEREAS, the combination of the ice storms and prolonged power outages caused substantial damage to private and public infrastructure, including the facilities owned and operated by Gulf Coast Authority; and

WHEREAS, during the storms, GCA managers, operators, and maintenance technicians came together, sacrificing their own personal challenges, to keep GCA from suffering extensive damage to its facilities; and

WHEREAS, GCA employees exhibited exceptional commitment, expertise, and great teamwork that fostered safe and rapid recovery of GCA facilities under these extraordinary circumstances; and

WHEREAS, in the aftermath of the winter storms, GCA employees continue to work efficiently and as a team to identify damages and assess compliance issues brought about by the events; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Directors of GCA desires to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of all GCA staff;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Directors of the Gulf Coast Authority, hereby recognizes the extraordinary efforts of its employees, especially those employees who “rode out” the storms distinguishing these individuals as Weather Warriors, and honors all of our essential employees for their efforts during and after the significant damage to property and threat of personal safety brought by Winter Storms Uri and Viola.

PASSED, ADOPTED AND APPROVED this 13th day of MAY, 2021.

Governor Abbott Reappoints Meaux and Scott to the Gulf Coast Authority Board of Directors

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott has reappointed Lamont Meaux and Kevin Scott to the Gulf Coast Authority for terms set to expire on August 31, 2022. The Gulf Coast Authority has the authority to provide water systems and control water pollution and waste disposal within the district. In addition, they shall conduct studies and research on the control of water pollution and waste disposal within the district.

Lamont Meaux of Stowell is the owner and president of Seabreeze Culvert, Seabreeze Chemical and Seabreeze Farm. He is a member of the Winnie-Stowell Chamber of Commerce, Texas Society of Professional Engineers, Texas Farm Bureau, and General Land Office Regional Advisory Board. He is a past member of the American Rice Growers Association, American Soybean Association, American Rice Growers Exchange, and Texas Rice Festival. He is also a member of the East Chambers Agriculture Historical Society, Texas A&M University Association of Former Students, and the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets Association, and a member and past muster chairman of the Beaumont A&M Club. Meaux served in the U.S. Army and received a Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M University.

Kevin Scott of Santa Fe is co-owner and funeral director of Scott Funeral Home in Alvin. He previously served as a teacher, coach, and vice-principal for Santa Fe ISD. He is a former member of the Santa Fe High School Football and Baseball Booster Clubs. In addition, he is a former member of the Texas State Teachers Association and Texas High School Coaches Association. Scott received a Bachelor of Science from Stephen F. Austin State University and a Master of Science in Educational Management from the University of Houston at Clear Lake.

These appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.

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If you have any questions regarding this announcement, please contact the Governor’s Press Office at (512) 463-1826.

GCA Facilities Recognized by NACWA for Continued Operational Excellence in 2020

Four Gulf Coast Authority (GCA) waste treatment facilities were recognized this year (2020) by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) with Peak Performance Awards:

  • Blackhawk Municipal Wastewater Treatment Facility – Gold;
  • Forty Acre Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility – Gold;
  • Odessa Municipal and Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility – Gold; and
  • Washburn Tunnel Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility – Silver.

This is the fifteenth consecutive year for GCA facilities to be honored by NACWA (with awards being received as far back as 1990 from AMSA, NACWA’s predecessor organization) for excellence in operational performance and permit compliance.
“Our facilities provide essential services for our communities, industry, and the environment,” said Liz Fazio Hale, GCA General Manage/CEO. “In a year with pandemic challenges, GCA is proud to be nationally recognized for its reliability and commitment to protecting the waters of the state of Texas.”

Peak Performance Awards are provided to outstanding clean water utilities that have demonstrated operational excellence with no more than five permit violations in a calendar year for Silver, and, for our Gold Award winners, zero violations.
For nearly 50 years, NACWA has been the nation’s recognized leader in advancing sustainable and responsible policy initiatives that help shape a strong and sustainable clean water future. NACWA seeks to fulfill this mission through its national recognition/awards program, its clean water advocacy and communications, and its peer-to-peer utility network to share best practices from coast-to-coast.

GCA is a governmental entity created by the Texas legislature in 1969 with the broad charge to protect the waters of the State of Texas. GCA has the authority to own and operate regional industrial and municipal wastewater treatment facilities, water systems, and solid waste facilities statewide, as well as the ability to provide bond financing services. For more information, please visit www.gcatx.org.

Media Contact:
Keith Hardcastle, Public Information Officer
(281) 488-4115 | khardcastle@gcatx.org

Fazio Hale Takes Helm as GCA General Manager/CEO

Elizabeth Fazio Hale today assumed the role of General Manager/Chief Executive Officer of the Gulf Coast Authority (GCA), a water and wastewater management authority in Texas. For GCA, having recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary, Fazio Hale takes the top leadership role at a time when essential workers are more critical than ever.

“With her broad background in the legal and financial aspects of water and wastewater management, Elizabeth is uniquely qualified to lead GCA into its next 50 years,” said Franklin D.R. Jones, Jr., Chairman of the GCA Board of Directors. “We’re confident that her expertise, combined with her boundless energy, keen intellect, and strategic insights, will far advance our mission to protect the waters of the state of Texas.”

Fazio Hale has served in numerous leadership roles on water and wastewater planning and management in Texas, most recently as the Assistant General Manager of GCA. As the youngest CEO appointed to the position and only GCA’s sixth general manager, Fazio Hale understands the high level of expectations for leading an organization deeply rooted in tradition and a commitment to the protection of the environment while supporting its local communities and industry. Fazio Hale joined GCA in May 2019 and, after a year of outstanding performance, she was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors in June 2020 to replace retiring Lori Traweek as General Manager/CEO.

“GCA has long been a leader in recognizing the value of combining environmental sustainability with economic development,” said Fazio Hale. “In today’s world, the importance of innovation in water management has only grown more vital. In order to advance our mission in these changing times, we must be intentional in our understanding of the new challenges that lie ahead, including the impacts to our employees and an uncertain regulatory future.”

Fazio Hale has a combined 20 years of legal, financial, legislative, and executive leadership with singular achievements such as contributing to the advancement and funding of the Texas State Water Plan – a goal more than 15 years in the making.

“As I step into my new role at GCA, I see many correlations to previous experience collaborating with experts in the environmental and industrial fields,” she said. “I look forward to working with our board and staff to continue GCA’s stellar reputation for reliability, innovation and teamwork set by the leaders that came before me.”

Fazio Hale serves as the vice president for the Gulf Coast Industrial Development Authority; treasurer for the Texas Conservation Fund; a member of the board of directors for the Texas Water Foundation; a member of the board of directors for the Texas Water Conservation Association; a member of the board of directors for the TWCA – Risk Management Fund; a member of the Galveston Bay Council; member of the Economic Alliance – Houston Port Region’s legislative committee; and member of the Economic Development Alliance for Brazoria County.

Gulf Coast Authority (www.gcatx.org) was created by the Texas Legislature in 1969 to protect the waters of the state of Texas through environmentally sound, economically feasible and technologically advanced wastewater and water management practices. GCA provides regional industrial and municipal wastewater treatment services, solid waste management, industrial water services, and financial services – all with the goal to protect the environment, preserve water resources, and promote industrial development for a strong economy.

TWDB Appoints First Regional Flood Planning Group Members; GCA’s Scott Harris Selected To Serve Trinity Region

AUSTIN, OCTOBER 1, 2020 – The board of directors of the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) appointed its first members to serve on 15 regional flood planning groups (RFPGs), selecting Scott Harris, Chief Operating Officer of Gulf Coast Authority, to represent water authorities in the Trinity River region. Over 600 nominations were received by the TWDB Executive Administrator for the initial voting membership of the RFPGs.

“GCA is proud to participate in the flood planning process to help water utilities plan for and mitigate risks associated with flood damage,” said Scott Harris. “With many of our facilities located along the coast, I am thankful to the state of Texas for prioritizing these planning efforts and to the Texas Water Development Board for quickly implementing the process.”

In 2019, the Texas Legislature established a framework for regional flood planning across the state of Texas. Senate Bill 8 (86th Texas Legislature) required the TWDB to establish flood planning regions, appoint initial members of those regions, provide technical and financial assistance, adopt guidance principals, and create rules for a cyclical five-year flood planning process. The first regional flood plans will be due no later than January 10, 2023.

Gulf Coast Authority (www.gcatx.org) was created by the Texas Legislature in 1969 to protect the waters of the state of Texas through environmentally sound, economically feasible and technologically advanced wastewater and water management practices. GCA provides regional industrial and municipal wastewater treatment services, solid waste management, industrial water services and financial services – all with the goal to protect the environment, preserve water resources and promote industrial development for a strong economy.