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First energy saving hatchery under way

TEXAS - HDR Fish Pro should soon finalise the design of the proposed hatchery. Bids will be accepted for its construction in early 2008, according to Gary Saul, deputy director of inland fisheries with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Construction should begin in the late spring of 2008 and be completed within 18 to 24 months. The cost is estimated at around $20 million, with the design phase cost $1.5 million.

"We really don't know (yet) how much the project will cost," said Mr Saul.

Jasper won the bid to host the state's newest fish hatchery through an innovative energy saving proposal to siphon water from Sam Rayburn Reservoir, which will be used in lieu of pumping water. This concept could save the state as much $120,000 a year in electric bills, said Willie Stark, Jasper County Commissioner, at the ground breaking ceremony held last August.

The city of Lufkin and Lower Neches Valley Authority are the only entities with a right to withdraw water from the lake, according to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. However, LNVA has agreed to give TPWD 10,000 acre feet of water per year from the lake, according to both Saul and LNVA General Manager Robert Stroder.

"That will handle our needs at the hatchery very well," Saul said.

A pipeline leading from the southern end of Sam Rayburn Reservoir will release water at the turn of a valve that allows gravity to pull the water across the highway to the fish tanks. Water will later be released back into the Angelina River.

The new hatchery will employ an estimated 25 people. Fish from the hatchery will be used to stock waters across the state.

Source: LufkinDailyNews