SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority won the latest fight in a legal battle with Guadalupe County property owners thanks to a ruling by an appeals court last week.
The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and water-front property owners have been embroiled in a legal battle for more than two years over failing dams on Guadalupe Valley Lakes System lakes.
The 90-year-old dams began failing and in 2019 the GBRA subsequently announced they would be draining the four lakes over public safety concerns. At the time of the announcement, there was not a plan in place for reconstruction of the dams.
The lawsuit alleges the GBRA’s failure to maintain the dams and subsequent draining of the lakes has resulted in the diminishment of property values for water-front property owners.
In last week’s decision, the GBRA said the 274th District Court ruled that property owners could not prove they were harmed by the actions of the river authority.
“The decision further demonstrates that cooperation and collaboration is the path forward for the Guadalupe Valley Lakes,” said GBRA General Manager and CEO Kevin Patteson. “The collective effort continues to yield results: Construction is underway on the Lake Dunlap dam with Lake McQueeney and Lake Placid to follow, thanks to the formation and voter confirmation of Water Control and Improvement Districts (WCIDs).”
Attorney J. Douglas Sutter, who represents more than 200 water-front property owners, said the fight is not over.
“We’re disappointed because the issues of a governmental taking are clearly defined in the statute of Texas, the Government Code and in the constitution. Court didn’t even discuss that at all,” Sutter said. “They completely ignored statutory taking of property rights and constitutional takings of property rights and went off on a tangent talking about the fact that we don’t own the dams. That has nothing to do with the property rights issue.”
Sutter said he will be filing the proper motions with the Court of Appeals.
“Then if we don’t get the desired results there, we’ll go to the Supreme Court,” Sutter said.
Construction to restore the Lake Dunlap dam began in May, two years after the 90-year-old spillgate failed causing the lake to drop nearly 7 ft. Construction is expected to take at least 24 months barring weather delays.
The construction includes replacing three bear-trap-style crest gates with hydraulically-actuated steel crest gates.
The GBRA said Lake McQueeney and Lake Placid dam reconstructions are in the design phase and designs are expected to be finalized by November.