SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — The attorney representing water-front property owners along rivers maintained by the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority filed a lawsuit yesterday after two more lakes were drained after the dams became inoperable.
Attorney Douglas Sutter wrote the GBRA was prohibited by a Guadalupe County judge on September 16, 2019, from “dewatering, drawing down, or draining Lake Placid, Lake McQueeney, Lake Gonzales and Meadow Lake … and that the water level of the lakes shall remain the same as they were on September 11, 2019.”
Lake Placid was inadvertently drained last month after a heavy rain event where the spillgates were lowered to pass water flows downstream and became stuck in the lowered position. Lake Gonzales was struck with a similar fate in August after a tree got stuck on the spillgate as it was lowered, rendering it inoperable.
Sutter claims that GBRA and their legal counsel have argued the six dams “were not constructed for and are not used for flood control purposes” and that, since the catastrophic failure at Lake Dunlap in May 2019, GBRA has stopped performing regular maintenance on the dams at the lakes.
“While GBRA is spending millions of dollars on its new facilities in New Braunfels and has just recently provided substantial pay raises to its officers, including but not limited to General Manager Kevin Patteson and Assistant General Manager Jonathan Stinson, it has ceased to maintain any of its dams,” Sutter wrote in the filing.
The dam at Lake Gonzales has no plan to be repaired, as GBRA officials said that there are “currently no funding mechanisms” in place for a full-scale replacement of the more than 90-year-old spillgates that have failed now at four out of six GBRA lakes.
GBRA announced last week that they are following the recommendation of engineers and will keep the spillgates on Lake Placid in the lowered position until construction to replace the two spillgates with new hydraulically-actuated steel crest gates begins next year. The project is expected to take at least two years to complete, GBRA said.
“In essence, GBRA has now decommissioned four out of the six dams without going through the legal processes of
formal abandonment of these dams,” Sutter wrote. “No doubt, this was planned by GBRA all along.”