Experts inspecting the Guadalupe Valley lakes system for safety have come close to reporting their findings on three of the four lakes that have water and the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority expects to receive a report soon.
In the meantime, the lakes will remain closed until the independent expert panel issues its report defining unsafe zones on the lakes, GBRA Communications Manager Patty Gonzales said.
“We expect to receive the report early next week for lakes McQueeney, Placid and Meadow, and the GBRA ordinance will be updated to reflect the findings,” she said in a statement released Friday morning. “The panel has requested an additional 30 days to complete velocity modeling for Lake Gonzales.”
The river authority offered to continue providing updates as information becomes available, the statement said.
One concerned citizen said he chooses to remain optimistic about the experts’ findings, the report and the fate of recreation activities on the lakes.
Bob Spalten, president of the Friends of Lake McQueeney lake association, said he has no idea what’s in the experts’ report. He and members of his association expect the experts to deliver the report to Judge Steve Ables — presiding judge in the 6th Administrative Judicial Region — on Monday and then he’s looking for a very positive outcome shortly after that, Spalten said.
“They’re going to deliver the report on Monday, the judge will move on it and GBRA will get the board approval,” he said Friday afternoon. “Hopefully by this time next week we’ll know exactly what’s going to happen but I can’t say for sure what’s going to happen. I anticipate by this time next week the lakes will be open.
“I have to think positively on this whole situation.”
Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority officials have said they believe aging steel caused a spill gate to break free May 14 and open the dam at Lake Dunlap. The failure caused the lake to empty.
GBRA owns and operates six hydroelectric dams on the Guadalupe River. Dunlap was the second of the dams to experience a spill-gate failure and empty following the 2016 draining of Lake Wood.
The river authority has said the aging dams — all upwards of 90 years old — need their spill gates replaced at an astounding cost. Officials have said the authority has no funds to make the needed upgrades, which has led to safety concerns with the prospect of injury should someone be on a lake or near a dam when the next spill gate fails.
Officials called for a draining of the remaining four lakes — Lake Gonzales, Lake Placid, Lake McQueeney and Meadow Lake. Members of lake associations in the Guadalupe Valley were up in arms.
Groups of property owners sued the authority, its board and staff members to stop the drain. Ables issued a temporary injunction against GBRA draining the lakes and the parties came to an agreement delaying the drain while the experts conduct studies and all sides try to come to a long-term plan to save the lakes.
The judge said since the lawsuits are still on the table, he needed to set a trial date for further proceedings in the event all parties cannot come to an agreement to end the lawsuits.
Ables said the trial would begin 9 a.m. Oct. 5, 2020, giving parties involved a year to hammer out funding options, to study the needs and more.