Speaking for himself, a Guadalupe County resident who owns property on one of its lakes, not as the county attorney, Dave Willborn posted online a scathing rebuke Monday evening of the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and its plan to dewater four remaining lakes in its hydroelectric system.
Willborn said he personally drafted an enforceable ordinance GBRA could use to ensure safety on the lakes. His assistance was for naught and, apparently, fell on deaf ears, Willborn said.
“Despite our best efforts at the county, their dismissive posture regarding our assistance makes it crystal clear to me now that GBRA has absolutely no intention of changing their minds about draining our lakes, and that public safety is not their primary concern (if it is a concern at all),” he wrote in a post on the #Save Our Lakes Facebook group page. “I personally believe that the only option we as citizens have left is litigation.”
“These statements are mine, personally and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Guadalupe County or its officials,” Willborn added.
GBRA officials have said in recent weeks that safety was the leading factor in deciding to drain Lake Gonzales, Lake McQueeney, Meadow Lake and Lake Placid.
Two of the GBRA’s dams — one at Lake Wood in 2016 and another this May at Lake Dunlap — had spill gates fail that led to the emptying of those lakes. GBRA officials have said that the spill gates at each of the dams, each upwards of 90 years old, face imminent failure that can put lives and property at risk.
So, those officials have said, draining the lakes is the option they have chosen moving forward.
Guadalupe County Judge Kyle Kutscher attended a meeting Monday with GBRA representatives as well as a host of others including representatives from Governor Greg Abbott’s office, State Sen. Donna Campbell and State Rep. John Kuempel. At the meeting, GBRA officials presented information they have presented in the past explaining the safety issues, Kutscher said.
It was at the meeting Monday where he provided Willborn’s drafted ordinance that would restrict access to the lakes, giving stakeholders more time to identify solutions besides draining the lakes.
“We were basically trying to find any alternate solution that had a less of a negative impact to the home owners and the whole community,” Kutscher said. “I understand safety’s the biggest concern, but if there’s a way to accomplish both, we should consider it.”
After the meeting, Kutscher said, he called GBRA General Manager/CEO Kevin Patteson to see if the meeting had done any good to change Patteson’s mind or get GBRA to consider an alternate course of action. The phone conversation ended with Kutscher feeling nothing had changed, GBRA was going ahead with its previously announced plans, the county judge said.
The ordinance he drafted could’ve been wide-sweeping and would’ve allowed law enforcement personnel from local police officers to sheriff’s deputies to game wardens and beyond to possibly enforce it, Willborn said.
“It could’ve been as simple as no motor boats allowed on the water to something as restrictive as you can’t put your toes in the water and anywhere in between,” he said. “This is a far-reaching problem not just for myself. I would’ve been willing to give my assistance irrespective if I lived on the lake but living on the lake brought it to my attention faster.”
No one from GBRA with information about Monday’s meeting could be reached to provide comment Monday night.