Settlement reached in lawsuit related to draining of 4 GBRA lakes

River authority to replace and maintain aging dams

GUADALUPE VALLEY LAKES, Texas – A settlement has been reached in one of the court cases regarding Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and the property owners along the Guadalupe Valley lakes.

The GBRA owns the six dams that create the Guadalupe Valley Lakes system and the waters within the lakes. Those lakes include Lake Dunlap, Lake McQueeny, Lake Placid, Meadow Lake, Lake Gonzales and Lake Wood.

In August 2019, the GBRA announced that Lake Gonzales, Meadow Lake, Lake Placid and Lake McQueeney would be drained due to concerns over aging dams.

Watch exact moment of partial dam failure at Lake Dunlap

Lake Gonzales was expected to be dewatered first, followed by Meadow Lake, Lake Placid and Lake McQueeney.

However, a judge put a temporary halt to the draining of the four lakes last September to hear arguments from lawyers representing residents who live along the lakes in addition to GBRA lawyers.

Concerns over the aging dams in the latter part of 2019 came after a partial dam failure at Lake Dunlap on the morning of May 14 that same year. GBRA officials said water rushed out of the lake at 11,000 cubic feet per second after a Dunlap Dam spillgate failed.

Thursday, the GBRA announced that the settlement would help address specifics of a spillgate replacement and dam repair.

The settlement agreement will allow GBRA to continue maintaining current operating levels on each lake “until work begins on the spillgate replacement and repairs on that lake’s dam.”

Financing and operational contracts will address the specifics of spillgate replacement and dam repair on each lake, according to GBRA officials.

Aerial footage shows what’s at stake for 4 GBRA lakes as deal postpones draining

Water Control Improvement Districts (WCID) have also been established as a way to help residents tax themselves and raise money for dam construction.

The WCID for Lake Dunlap was created in February and will move toward a voter confirmation election in November, according to the GBRA. Lake McQueeney WCID was created in April and will also be on the ballot for voter confirmation.

The Guadalupe County Commissioners Court recently approved the creation of the Lake Placid WCID, and a voter confirmation election will occur in November, GBRA officials reported.

GBRA General Manager and CEO Kevin Patteson and the GBRA board of directors are finalizing negotiations for funding and operations contracts with the Lake McQueeney and Lake Placid WCID.

The GBRA has applied for zero-interest and low-interest loans from the Texas Water Development Board for replacement and repair projects associated with the aging damns, officials said.

Lawsuits filed to prevent draining of GBRA lakes

“Bonds will be issued by GBRA for the project and debt service for the individual projects on each lake will be paid for by a pledge of tax revenues from taxpayers on those lakes,” according to GBRA officials.

Revenues from the sale of hydroelectric power at each lake will go to the WCID for that lake moving forward. The revenues will be used for debt service, operation and maintenance costs and other lawful purposes.

The GBRA will continue to operate and perform maintenance on the Guadalupe Valley dams following the repairs to the spillgates.

“This settlement agreement is a testament to the results we can achieve when we all work together toward a common goal,” said Patteson.

A court ruling still prevents the lakes from being drained and a second lawsuit, also on behalf of property owners in the area, has yet to reach a settlement.

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