The City of Gonzales is taking additional steps to “increase the public’s awareness of the dangers of the river and the importance of water safety” when accessing the Guadalupe River after several recent drownings.
A public hearing will be held during the Thursday, Aug. 11, Gonzales City Council meeting, where citizens can discuss any necessary restrictions or guidelines that would help inform the public of the dangers of going past the chain link fence at the city’s hydroelectric dam on the river (just off Water Street).
Another topic of discussion would be adequate signage or other warning devices may be needed for those who enter the river by foot or watercraft.
On Sunday, July 10, Gustavo Angel Velazquez, a 24-year-old Gonzales High School graduate, drowned in the Guadalupe River after he was last seen below the hydroelectric dam. His body was located and recovered by Gonzales County Rescue personnel later that evening.
On Sunday, May 1, 22-year-old Nixon resident Daniel Cruz drowned near the dam after being reported missing that evening. His body wasn’t recovered by game wardens until the following day.
“In light of the recent drowning events below the City of Gonzales dam and hydroelectric plant, steps have been taken starting today (Thursday, July 14) to install a temporary fence blocking access to the former Lou's Canoes river access trail and the river bank it leads to,” Mayor S.H. “Steve” Sucher stated in an order. “Separately, gates to the hydroelectric plant itself will be closed to the public at all times and public access to the river bank immediately south of the plant will be blocked as a result.
“All other recreational and fishing locations south along the river and north of the hydroelectric plant will remain open to the public. Please consider wearing a life jacket at any time you choose to enter the Guadalupe River.”
A task force of “local first responders, state river management, and federal hydroelectric regulatory agencies” will be consulted to develop recommendations to improve safety at these sites. These recommendations will then be presented at the Aug. 11 council meeting and subject to public comment.
“The temporary restrictions at these two sites will remain in place until public comment is completed and new measures, if any, are approved and implemented. Water safety at the Highway 183 bridge will be included in this discussion,” Sucher stated, noting the property in question is owned by the city.
“This is a voluntary order and no citations will be issued to individuals who manage to get past these barriers,” Sucher said. “We do ask the public's cooperation in avoiding these two sites during this interim period. Tampering or vandalism to the barriers will be treated in accordance with existing city ordinances.”