Water attorney and former Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA) deputy manager James Murphy briefed the Gonzales County Commissioners Court Oct. 15 on the various lawsuits against GBRA and how they could impact Lake Wood.
The GBRA-owned Lake Wood suffered a spillgate failure in 2016 which left much of the area drained. A similar failure occurred at another GBRA-owned lake, Lake Dunlap, in May 2019. Following the Lake Dunlap failure, the GBRA board of directors voted in Aug. 2019 to dewater its remaining four lakes along the Guadalupe River because of safety concerns. In response, two separate groups of lakefront property owners hit GBRA with lawsuits.
The dewatering was planned to begin with Lake Gonzales in Sept. 2019 but the plan was halted prior to because of a court ordered one-year injunction. The surviving lakes now remain intact but off limits for recreational use, while GBRA and the lakefront property owner litigants figure out the next step forward.
Though Murphy had previously worked for GBRA, he now represents several parties that live along Lake McQueeney—another one of GBRA’s lakes. Murphy proposed three discussed options for moving forward post-injunction: establishing a new taxing entity to fund the repairs and maintenance of the lake, have Canyon Reservoir ratepayers pay to maintain the lakes through court judgement or create a non-tax related revenue stream.
Murphy recommended the county establish its own political subdivision to determine its best way forward with Lake Wood and to get involved in the litigation as a means to control Lake Wood’s destiny.
“What I’m going to request is to work with your staff on a resolution, at least, to support a just settlement that includes Lake Wood as well as McQueeney, Dunlap, Placid and Meadow,” Murphy said.
The nature of the agenda item barred the court from taking any further action at its meeting.