I t’s hard to know what to make of the news last week that the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) won’t be purchasing the 34,000 acres still owned by Alcoa at the site of what was once the nation’s largest aluminum smelter.
While LCRA has a well-deserved reputation as a great corporate neighbor, it was obvious from the time the potential agreement was announced that this deal was mostly going to be about water, lots of water.
LCRA wanted the Alcoa property primarily because of that water, both underground and above ground. And the river authority wouldn’t have had designs on that water if it didn’t plan at some point to ship it away to points that are obviously outside of Milam County.
Now, Texas needs water, will need more in the future and that’s what LCRA is charged with doing. Fair enough.
But it was always hard not to hope all or part of the Alcoa land would eventually go to some businesses which would actually bring some much needed jobs into the county.
In last year’s ultimately successful quest for permits to increase water production for Alcoa, the company dropped a few tantalizing hints that any future businesses interested in acquiring some of that land would need water.
While we don’t have any knowledge that any deals are forthcoming in regard to Alcoa land, it would seem preferable that if water is going to be extracted from Milam County in large volumes, it would be nice for it to benefit the county and its economy in the form of jobs.
Just last month the Rockdale City Council originally rejected a proposed feral hog operation at the southern city limits, which promised to start with 14 jobs and eventually employ 20 to 25.
It turns out that business is coming here anyway. You can read about it on page 1A. It was originally turned down because a fair number of residents told the council they didn’t think Rockdale would like the smell.
That wouldn’t be an issue for any business located way out on the former Alcoa land. Wonder what 10 small companies, each employing 25, out there could do for Rockdale?
Not another Alcoa. But it would be 250 more jobs than LCRA would have brought.—M.B.