LCRA, PEC award $5,000 grant to upgrade water tanks used by area firefighters

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church will insulate pumps, winterize fill lines for two 30,000-gallon tanks

The following story is courtesy of the Lower Colorado River Authority.

A $5,000 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Pedernales Electric Cooperative will pay for improvements to two water storage tanks that supply water to volunteer fire departments during emergencies in Blanco County and the surrounding area.

A $5,000 grant is presented to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church for improvements to water storage tanks that assist area firefighters.
LCRA and Pedernales Electric Cooperative representatives present a $5,000 grant to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church for improvements to water storage tanks that assist area firefighters. The grant is part of LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. Pictured, from left to right, are: Terry Duncan, church member; Bob Bewley, bookkeeper and church member; Toni Matula, vestry member; Pete Hyink, junior warden; Jane Clark, senior warden; Thomas Michael Martine, LCRA Board member; Tom Clark, church member; Michael L. “Mike” Allen, LCRA Board member; Phil Wilson, LCRA general manager; Carol Freeman and Margaret D. “Meg” Voelter, LCRA Board members; Sandi Burleson, parish administrator; Rick Arnic, LCRA Regional Affairs representative; Diana Gonzales, PEC public affairs representative; Father Tommy Bye, rector; and Eddie Dauterive, PEC chief operations officer.

LCRA awarded the Community Development Partnership Program grant to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Cypress Mill, which provides water from two 30,000-gallon tanks free of charge to area firefighters and residents. Since the tanks were installed in 2012, they have provided water for battling wildfires in the heavily wooded rural area. During droughts, area residents also draw non-potable water from the tanks for their own use.

Senior Warden Jane Clark, a lay leader at St. Luke’s, said firefighting crews frequently filled their tankers using the tanks during the Cypress Mill Road Fire in June. The fire spread across nearly 1,000 acres and threatened five structures before being contained and extinguished.

“From that fire to our tanks was probably not more than 10 minutes, maybe slightly less,” Clark said. “To go from the fire back to Blanco to secure water there would have been, I would say, close to 30 minutes just one way. So you had a 20-minute round trip instead of an hourlong one.”

The pumps and fill lines that supply water to the storage tanks from an underground well suffered serious damage in 2021 during Winter Storm Uri. Repairs have been completed, and the grant will cover the cost of insulating two pump houses and winterizing the fill lines outside the tanks.

Clark said the members of St. Luke’s supply snacks and drinks and offer a restroom or a restful spot to firefighters refilling their tankers.

“I think it gives people out in this area some comfort because you are isolated and fires do crop up once in a while,” Clark said. “Our reaction to this grant is sincere gratefulness. The work has commenced, to be completed before the first freeze arrives.”

The community grant is one of 46 grants awarded recently through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which helps volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders and nonprofit organizations fund capital improvement projects in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water and transmission service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves. PEC is one of LCRA’s wholesale electric customers and is a partner in the grant program.

Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in January. More information is available at