On December 17, 2019, the Friends of Lake McQueeney (FOLM) sent out an update informing you that the Guadalupe County Commissioner’s Court unanimously approved the creation of the Lake McQueeney Water Control and Improvement District #1 (LMWCID) and appointed five temporary board members. As a reminder, the creation of this district is temporary until an election is held in which the registered voters within the district vote to confirm the district, elect a board of directors and vote on propositions which could include the levying of a property tax and the issuance of bonds payable from a property tax. As previously communicated, FOLM had a goal of a May 2020 election. Unfortunately, after recent meetings with members of the GBRA management team, FOLM has concluded it will not have enough information on the McQueeney construction/repair cost to call a May 2020 election. The next available election date, in accordance with state regulations, is November 2020. We are disappointed to announce this delay but wanted to get this information out to you as soon as we could. Before propositions would be put before the property owners for a vote, an understanding of the gate design and the associated cost and timeline should be in place. It would also be desirable, prior to an election, that an agreement be in place which would outline contractual obligations and financial responsibilities of each party.
Litigation continues on the claims against the GBRA with the goal of winning a Permanent Injunction against draining the lakes, along with securing financial contributions from the GBRA for the repair and replacement of the gates. Over the next several months, discovery in the form of requests for production of documents and interrogatories (written questions) will be ongoing. The Court has stated that it will not hear arguments on the Plea to the Jurisdiction by the GBRA until July 2020. This is a key hearing for the case as it will determine whether the case will continue against the GBRA. The LMWCID will be an important asset in potential settlement discussions with the GBRA concerning our claims.
The LMPC engineering committee has continued discussions with GBRA management team regarding repair/construction cost and construction duration. The committee awaits GBRA’s latest Lake Dunlap dam repair and construction duration estimates which will aid in the development of the Lake McQueeney cost and timeline assessments. Thank you for your confidence and financial support of the Lake McQueeney preservation efforts. Our committee and board members have spent countless hours working toward having a refurbished dam in place as soon as feasible, saving our beautiful lake. We will keep you posted as information is made available.
The Guadalupe County Commissioner’s Court has unanimously approved the creation of the Lake McQueeney Water Improvement District #1. The appointed directors are Bob Worth, John Ewald, Paul Mueller, Lindsey Gillum and David Doughtie. This district is a governmental entity and will be able to contract and negotiate with GBRA to ensure the dam is repaired and maintained. This district is temporary until an election is held and voted on by registered voters within the district.
The district is only waterfront, canals, and Treasure Island properties on Lake McQueeney. If your property is not on Treasure Island, not on the lake front, and not on a canal, you will not be in the district and you will not be assessed taxes from the district. We highly encourage everyone that lives in the district to make sure you vote YES on election day and preserve our beautiful Lake McQueeney.
Many thanks to the FOLM board and members of the LMPC committee for their dedication and hard work.
Three types of spill gates have been under consideration and use of the current bear trap design has been ruled out. The hydraulic and the bladder designs are still under consideration. An independent engineering firm has been hired to help guide the committee and provide an independent review of documents supplied to us by GBRA. The engineering sub-committee’s goal remains as follows:
1. Development of a plan for identifying the lowest-cost life cycle solution for the replacement spill gate technology.
2. Development of a plan for selecting and engaging an engineering contractor.
3. Creation of a timeline for construction of the new gates.
4. Determining sources of interim funding to support engineering, procurement, and construction prior to the securing of funds through various sources.
As of today, we have received total commitments of over $1,400,000 through our fundraising efforts. All money received will help pay for expenses that were/are being incurred regarding fighting the dewatering and working toward a long term solution. Current expenditures consist of legal costs for setting up the WCID and associated title and civil engineering work, past and upcoming injunction proceedings and associated legal costs, Independent Expert costs associated with the river safety plan, professional engineers, an Economic Impact Analysis and professional strategists. Thank you to all who have donated and who continue to support our efforts. Thus far we have paid just over $400,000 in expenses on the above mentioned items.
All FOLM members should have received an opportunity to join us in our fundraising campaign via a mail out. Our next campaign will be circulated to all property owners on Lake McQueeney. We will likely reach out to these families and/or individuals through their HOA’s. Additionally, we are exploring alternative funding at the local, state and federal level to help offset the cost of repairing the dam. Thank you all for not only your contributions but also your prayers on this matter.
A hearing on the Sutter lawsuit (many FOLM members are plaintiffs) was held recently with the judge not granting the request for injunctive relief. However, GBRA has stated that they have already taken some actions similar to what the suit sought.
The LMPC is aware of the importance of educating the owners of McQueeney lakefront property on the merits and details of the WCID. At this time, details are not known and no agreement has been reached with the GBRA. As details are known, we will be sure to communicate expeditiously.
A temporary injunction was approved today after an agreement between the plaintiffs and the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA) was reached. Under terms of the agreement there will be no de-watering of any lakes by GBRA. During the next 30 to 60 days, use of the lakes is prohibited while experts chosen by the plaintiffs and GBRA determine the proper no-go zones above and below each dam. After marking of those zones, use of the lakes will resume. It is expected that a county ordinance will be passed to allow for enforcement and fines for violations. The trial date for the lawsuit is currently scheduled for October 5, 2020, should the case not be settled before. This will allow time for discovery and continued efforts by lakefront owners, associations, and GBRA to come up with long term solutions for the dam repairs.
September 5th, 2019
The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority on Thursday was sued by two different groups of property owners ahead of its planned dewatering of four lakes along the Guadalupe River scheduled for later this month. Both suits are seeking a temporary injunction or restraining order to block the planned dewatering. Read Express News Article
The FOLM Board held a membership meeting regarding the current situation affecting Lake McQueeney on Wednesday August 28th at the McQueeney Lions Club. Over 500 people and various news outlets were in attendance in an open forum. First, those in attendance were given an updated status from the Lake McQueeney Preservation Committee (LMPC) followed by an open question and answer session. Additional guest speakers included State Representative John Kuempel and FOLM’s attorney, Steve Robinson, regarding a Water Control and Improvement District (WCID). The LMPC updated the membership on many fronts including engineering, fundraising, an economic impact analysis and potential upcoming litigation. Short term the focus is to stop GBRA from dewatering the lakes while the long term goal is to be an integral part of fixing the problem. Steve Robinson outlined the long-term solution to create a WCID. The success of the district would depend on approval from the City of Seguin and the City of New Braunfels, Guadalupe County Commissioners Court and lakefront property owners. This district would create a tax to pay back bonds to repair and maintain the dam in the future.
We would like to extend a huge thank you to our local elected officials. The Guadalupe County Attorney David Willborn, County Judge Kyle Kutscher and County Sheriff Arnold Zwicke sent a letter to Governor Greg Abbott stating their joint safety/mitigation plan as an alternative to draining the lakes. This plan was also presented to GBRA. Don Kiel, City of Seguin Mayor sent a separate letter of support in reference to the County’s proposed mitigation plan to Governor Greg Abbott and also stated the economic health of the entire region will be devastated if the chain of lakes is drained. Kendy Gravett, President, Seguin Area Chamber of Commerce, sent a letter to Governor Abbott also taking a stand against lowering the lakes. The Chamber of Commerce passed a resolution to join the efforts of all impacted parties toward a long-range plan with shared responsibilities. State Representatives Kuempel, Cyrier and Biedermann as well as Senators Campbell and Zaffirini, among others, have also been great supporters of ours and advocates for helping find a solution. We thank all of these elected officials and local entities for their tremendous support.
As of today, we have received total commitments of over $1,100,000 through our fundraising efforts. All money received will help pay for expenses that we are incurring regarding fighting the dewatering and working toward a long term solution. Current expenditures consist of legal costs for setting up the WCID and associated title and civil engineering work, upcoming injunction proceedings and associated legal costs, professional engineers, an Economic Impact Analysis and professional strategists. Thank you to all who have donated and who continue to support our efforts. All FOLM members should have received an opportunity to join us in our fundraising campaign via a recent mail out. Our next campaign will be circulated to all property owners on Lake McQueeney. We will likely reach out to these families and/or individuals through their HOA’s. Additionally, we are exploring alternative funding at the local, state and federal level to help offset the cost of repairing the dam. Thank you all for not only your contributions but also your prayers to this matter.
The Perryman Group is actively underway in their Economic Impact Analysis (EIA). The study will demonstrate the benefits of preserving our lake. Conclusions will be drawn as to the economic impact that will affect the area around our lake.
As you may recall, in the last updates we shared with you the FOLM board approved moving forward with creation and activation of a Water Control and Improvement District (WCID). We have found that the law allows for a Commissioners Court to create a WCID, which is a special district with the power to levy an ad valorem tax and issue bonds payable from ad valorem taxes. A WCID has the power to improve and maintain rivers for certain purposes and construct and maintain dams. Since the last update, we have worked with Pape-Dawson Engineering to define the WCID boundaries and are very close to beginning to obtain signatures on the petition from property owners within the boundaries of the WCID. After successfully obtaining the consent of the City of Seguin and the City of New Braunfels and submitting a petition, the Commissioners Court will be asked to approve the creation of the WCID. Finally, an election will be held on a uniform election date in either May or November 2020. Our goal is to be ready for the May election. The ballot will contain propositions for confirmation of the district, election of a board of directors, authority to issue bonds payable from ad valorem taxes, and levy of maintenance tax. Although a lot of tedious work is required to get there, we are working diligently to meet timelines to be ready for the May election. CLOSING There is certainly power in numbers and we are making progress toward stopping the drain and creating a long-term solution to repair and maintain the dam. Again, we thank you for your support.
August 21, 2019
A capacity crowd attended the GBRA Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday, August 21st, to express their views on the dewatering of the Guadalupe Valley lakes. For two hours, residents pleaded for the Board to consider alternative safety measures that would not involve draining the lakes and give everyone time to put together a plan to finance and construct new gates. Many speakers emphasized the negative effects of the lowering on the community, taxes, schools, trees and the environment, properties, wells and septic systems, and small businesses. There was no action by the Board to reverse or alter the decision of the General Manager that was announced on August 15th.
August 15, 2019
As a result of the gate failures at Lake Dunlap and the engineering assessment of the failure, GBRA has announced their intention to drawdown Lake Gonzales, Meadow Lake, Lake Placid, and Lake McQueeney, starting September 16th. Each lake will be dewatered, starting with the furthest downstream and working their way up to Lake McQueeney. Completion is expected by the end of September. Removal of boats and other preparations should be completed by September 16th. Efforts by FOLM, the Lake McQueeney Preservation Committee, GBRA, and others are continuing work to find a permanent solution to bring Lake McQueeney back to normal.
July 9, 2019 - From FOLM’s President:
The majority of the Friends of Lake McQueeney board has voted to incorporate the independent Lake McQueeney Preservation Association into a committee of FOLM. The committee will be the Lake McQueeney Preservation Committee and will initially consist of 8 individuals. The two main goals of this committee are:
This committee will send correspondence to the FOLM Board on a periodic basis, and any request for expenditures would be sent to the FOLM Board for approval. This committee will strictly be an exploratory committee to look at options on how we should proceed. No binding resolutions will come out of this committee without board approval. The current members of the committee are myself, Mark Long, Paul Mueller, Todd Mueller, David Doughtie, John Ewald and Bob Worth. Steve Robinson of ABHR Law Firm in Houston has volunteered his time to assist the committee with legal advice on forming a utility district. A utility district would be needed to issue bonds and collect taxes. All of these individuals (excluding myself) bring a high level of expertise in their respected areas that are needed for a solution to our dam crisis.
The first meeting of the Guadalupe county task force established by County Judge Kyle Kutsher to solve the issues of the hydro lake infrastructure was held Tuesday at the GBRA annex building. In attendance were the two county commissioners whose district covers Lake Dunlap, Lake McQueeney, and Lake Placid, representatives from PLDA, FOLM - myself, Mark and Jamie Long, Lake Placid, and Meadow Lake, and the executive staff of GBRA.
GBRA’S general council started the meeting and spoke about several options for forming a utility district. It became very clear that GBRA and the county were looking to the lake associations to take the lead role in forming the districts, raising funds, completing engineering studies, and other associated projects concerning the hydro dams.
GBRA & GVEC will only cover the cost of maintenance, and operation of power plant & infrastructure, and operation of spill gates.
It was also discussed that each lake form its own taxing district due to the legal requirements of taxing districts. We would all benefit from each others ideas and political connections so I will be calling each association and proposing we start an informal Hydro Lakes Preservation Association. This association would communicate to each lake association committee about ongoing projects, and hopefully we can avoid doing duplicate work and reduce expenses.
We are hoping to have our next meeting of LMPC within a week and updates will be sent out as needed. Please call or email me with any questions.