A portion of the fight appears to be nearing an end for the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority in its legal battle against property owners along the hydro-electric lakes with failing dams in the area.
Litigants came to a settlement agreement in the civil case property owners brought against the authority in hopes of stopping GBRA from draining the well-liked lakes and allowing the dams that create them to fail, according to a news statement GBRA spokeswoman Patty Gonzales released Thursday morning.
“This settlement agreement is a testament to the results we can achieve when we all work together toward a common goal,” GBRA General Manager and CEO Kevin Patteson said. “We appreciate the partnership, dialogue, and collaboration of the residents and lake associations throughout the process.”
The agreement includes people who own property on Lake Placid and Lake McQueeney represented by San Antonio attorney Ricardo Cedillo in the case of Skonnord v. GBRA. Cedillo brought suit against GBRA on behalf of about 15 plaintiffs who live along McQueeney and Placid.
GBRA still faces a similar lawsuit filed by upwards of 300 plaintiffs living along some of the other four lakes in the system. Those property owners are represented by attorney Douglas Sutter in the suit Jimmy and Cheryl Williams et al. v. Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and its officers and directors.
He and his clients have not settled, Sutter said. And the plaintiffs in the Skonnord case didn’t get much for their efforts, he said.
“The 10 Skonnord plaintiffs received no additional consideration from GBRA and GBRA did not agree to do anything but to own and operate the new dam(s) to be paid 100% by the lake-front taxpayers for construction, operation and maintenance costs — that was a tough deal to negotiate,” he wrote Thursday morning in an email. “Our mediation with GBRA went nowhere.”
The settlement agreement anticipates recently created Water Control and Improvement Districts on Lake Placid and Lake McQueeney to enter into contracts with the river authority to help pay for the aging dams’ rehab and replacement of spill gates that have failed or are destined to fail, the news statement read.
“Per the settlement agreement, GBRA will continue maintaining the current operating levels on each lake until work begins on the spill gate replacement and repairs on that lake’s dam,” Gonzales’s statement read.