The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority’s plan to lower dam spill gates and empty the remaining lakes in its Guadalupe Valley lakes system has galvanized people across the county, a Guadalupe County commissioner said.
The court wanted to give voice to that solidarity and send a message by adopting a resolution Tuesday afternoon condemning the river authority’s plan, Precinct 1 Commissioner Greg Seidenberger said.
“The resolution says that we, the voice of Guadalupe County government, communicating on behalf of the people we represent, all the people in the county, to say to GBRA and the governor, don’t take away our water,” he said.
Governor Greg Abbott appoints the water authority’s board of directors so he may be inclined to listen to their recommendations, Seidenberger said. The commissioner wants the governor to consider listening to the thousands of people who will be negatively impacted by the draining of the lakes, Seidenberger said.
“We want him to listen to another voice, to our voice, a voice of reason,” Seidenberger said. “We are a strong community, a united community, a vocal community, and if the governor doesn’t come here and see that, I think he’s missing the boat.”
The resolution says that Guadalupe County does not wish to see the dewatering of lakes until dam repairs/replacements commence. Commissioners understand that safety is an issue, but think GBRA should consider the impacts releasing the water could have on the community, the resolution reads.
“(T)he premature action of dewatering the lakes will cause significant and unnecessary damage to appraised values, shallow wells, retaining walls, and trees,” according to the resolution. “Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the Guadalupe County Commissioners Court requests that the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) reconsider their decision to begin draining the lakes this month to give interested parties sufficient time to work out alternatives to restrict use, promote safety and prevent draining of the lakes.”
GBRA last month announced plans to lower spill gates on Sept. 16 at Lake Gonzales to begin draining that body of water. Then Meadow Lake will be dewatered, followed by Lake Placid and culminating near the end of September with the emptying of Lake McQueeney if no delays arise, GBRA General Manager/CEO Kevin Patteson has said.
The measure is necessary due to concerns that spill gates, at the almost 90-year-old dams, might fail and endanger residents and visitors around them, Patteson said. Those concerns heightened after a spill gate failure in 2016 on Lake Wood and one in May at Lake Dunlap, Patteson said.
County Judge Kyle Kutscher isn’t buying it.
For a good while, he believed the “narrative” he said GBRA “perpetuated” claiming that the dewatering move is all about safety. He no longer thinks that’s the case, Kutscher said.
He understands that safety is an issue, but thinks GBRA officials are not as concerned about safety as they portend, the judge said.
Everyone in the county and beyond understands the multiple impacts draining the lakes will cause, Kutscher said. Negatively impacting such a vast economic driver without a plan moving forward is unfair, he said.
“This is not the right thing to do,” Kutscher said. “This is going to hurt a lot of people. And this resolution is a way to say to GBRA (that it’s wrong).”