GUADALUPE COUNTY, Texas --The Guadalupe Valley Lakes that were set to be dewatered by the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority will not be drained.
- No one allowed on the lake for now
- Panel will decide if the lake is safe for continued use
- Decision will be reached in 30-60 days
This comes after a court hearing Monday where the agency reached a settlement with lakefront property owners.
The remaining four lakes along the Guadalupe River will not be dewatered, and in exchange, people cannot be in the water. The lakes will close this week.
McQueeney, Placid, Meadow and Gonzales lakes will be closed for at least a month while a panel of experts can decide if the lake is safe for continued use.
Those two experts will be independent, hired by each respective party. The two hired experts will then jointly choose a third to create the panel.
The panel will come back in 30 days, or 60 days if more time is needed, with a determination of which part of the lakes, if any, are safe. GBRA is responsible for cordoning off those unsafe zones, and local law enforcement will be assigned to each lake.
This temporary injunction does not affect the pending lawsuits against the GBRA and it will only last until a trial that will begin October 2020.
GBRA's attorney Lamont Jefferson says today's settlement is a reasonable solution. In the long term, he wants residents to understand the spill gates cannot function any longer.
"It seems obvious to me that these spill gates cannot and will not last. So leaving the gates where they are indefinitely is not going to work. They will fail eventually just as we have seen two of them fail," Jefferson said.
Attorney Doug Sutter says property owners do understand that and know the lakes at some point will need to be drained to repair the dams.
"People understand that if we have resolution to fix it, they're going to understand that they're not going to have water for a period of time because they know exactly when those repairs are going to be made. What GBRA was going to do was drain them and try to figure out what to do and that's what we wanted to stop," Sutter said.
"GBRA is not off any hook and there's still a day of reckoning," plaintiff attorney Ricardo Cedillo said.
Property owners say this settlement is a win.
Lindsey Gillum, a Lake McQueeney homeowner and member of the Friends of Lake McQueeney issued this statement to us:
“Today’s settlement protects our community and economy, and will bring all sides to the table to find meaningful, long-term solutions to save our lakes. A team of experts will tackle safety issues and develop zones where recreational activities will remain permissible. It will take a tremendous effort to establish Water Control and Improvement Districts (WCIDs) to create sustainable solutions for lake infrastructure. The hard work is about to begin. This settlement would not have been possible without the support of our community, our dedicated legislators, our county judge and attorney, our educators, our moral and financial support, and the leadership at GBRA.”
The GBRA issued this statement on the settlement:
The dams forming the Guadalupe Valley Lakes remain in dire need of replacement, having surpassed their useful life at more than 90 years old. The settlement in the Guadalupe Valley Lakes litigation helps the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority achieve its immediate priority of ensuring the safety of those on and around the lakes while simultaneously continuing to work collaboratively with key stakeholders to preserve their long-term sustainability. This temporary injunction will allow all parties to continue to work together to identify a solution and funding for the necessary replacement of the dams. While GBRA will work closely with law enforcement officials to enforce activity restrictions, is of the utmost importance that the community adhere to the limitations and continue to respect all restrictions until a long-term solution can be reached.
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- GBRA to Expand Restricted Zones Near Dams After Spillgate Failures