GBRA lakes will not be drained pending trial in October 2020

Lakes to be closed 30-60 days until experts determine which portions to reopen

By Garrett Brnger - Reporter, Robert Samarron - Photojournalist

SEGUIN, Texas - Four Guadalupe Valley lakes will not be drained for the foreseeable, after the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) and two groups of property owners reached a deal Monday.

The two sides agreed to a temporary injunction that would keep the river authority from draining Lake McQueeney, Lake Placid, Meadow Lake and Lake Gonzales, pending a trial in October 2020. It also closes the lakes to all activity, starting Thursday.

Meanwhile, a panel of experts will decide which areas of the lakes are safe to be opened. The panel has 30 days to make the decision, starting Monday, with the option of extending the review period an additional 30 days. 

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The deal comes on the same day the GBRA had originally planned to drain the lakes.

The GBRA had said draining the four lakes was necessary due to safety concerns over aging dams. Two other lakes held back by similar hydroelectric dams — Lake Wood in 2016 and Lake Dunlap in May — have already emptied because of spill gate failures.

The two groups of property owners filed lawsuits seeking to prevent the drainage. They had begun a hearing on Sept. 11 seeking a temporary injunction, which would have continued Monday afternoon had a deal not been reached.

ORIGINAL REPORT: 4 area lakes to be drained amid concerns over aging dams

Attorneys for the property owners spent much of Wednesday's hearing questioning the rationale behind the GBRA's decision to drain the lakes, both in reference to the level of danger the dams posed and also the stated reason for "safety."

Had the hearing continued, top GBRA executives would likely have been called to testify.

Following are the settlement details:

  • GBRA and the plaintiffs in the Guadalupe Valley Lakes litigation have agreed to a settlement of a temporary injunction that prevents the lakes from being dewatered for 12 months, while creating additional assurances to prioritize the safety of those on and around the lakes
  • As part of the settlement, a panel of three experts will be appointed to decide what, if any, areas of each lake would be safe for activity given the compromised nature of the dams
  • GBRA and the plaintiffs will each appoint an expert to the panel. The two experts will then select a third-party expert to assist with the effort, creating the panel of three
  • The panel will be appointed and have 30 days to determine what zones, if any, are safe for activity. The panel will have the opportunity to extend this window by an additional 30 days
  • Lakes will be closed to all activity effective beginning Thursday, until the panel has reached a decision on what areas, if any, are safe for activity
  • Professional law enforcement, acting as lake patrol, will be added to enforce the restrictions on each lake
  • GBRA will partner with law enforcement officials to ensure the enforcement of the lake restrictions

VIDEO: Aerial view of four Guadalupe Valley lakes

Read below: Temporary injunction agreement

Previously:

Attorneys for the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and two groups of property owners are considering a deal to temporarily stop the draining of four local lakes.

Both sides are talking Monday morning to try to hammer out details on an agreed temporary injunction.

The broad outline of the deal would be that the GBRA does not drain Lake McQueeney, Lake Placid, Meadow Lake and Lake Gonzales as planned, provided the lakes are completely closed.

Experts would determine if any parts of the lakes could then be opened.

Such an injunction would stay in place pending a trial.

The hearing will reconvene at 1 p.m. to see if an agreement can be reached.

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