On Thursday the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority did what everyone was dreading, and what everyone was expecting.
It announced that starting in mid-September it would begin systematically draining the remaining lakes in its hydroelectric system — starting with Lake Gonzales and working northward, finishing with Lake McQueeney by the end of the month.
This is the right move, but it’s also immensely damaging to the communities — both residential and commercial that call the lakes home.
There’s an entire environmental and economic ecosystem that has sprung up around those bodies of water, and those are going to be upended.
Those businesses who depended on visitors to the lake will find their client bases drying up.
Those real estate agents who made their money selling waterfront property along the lakes will find themselves squeezed.
If property values drop, and they should with no end on the horizon and land along a mud hole being worth less than land along a lake, then the taxing entities — school districts, counties, cities — will suffer.
With millions in repairs due across the system, and no money to pay for it, there’s little hope for an easy solution.
GBRA, which makes its money from sale of water, derives no benefit from increased property values or the recreational use of the lakes. The hydroelectric dams aren’t profitable enough to justify significant reinvestment.
That means any solution, and funding, is going to have to depend on the people who derive benefits from the lakes — largely property owners there.
GBRA should continue to work with them to find a way forward so life can hopefully return to normal.