The fate of a waterway dredging operation hangs in the balance as Llano County residents assemble groups to try to defeat a plan for a mining company to remove sand from a portion of Sandy Creek. Courtesy photo
STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
LLANO COUNTY — Construction company owner Steve Nash believes striking a deal with Collier Materials to dredge a portion of Sandy Creek on his property will prove beneficial and should dispel any concerns by area residents against the proposed operation.
“It’s a win-win venture for the community particularly Sandy Harbor and Sunrise Beach,” Nash said. “Safety and soundness are considerations in everything we do.”
The long-term plan involves erecting a so-called “vertical impact crusher” for on-site processing of the material extracted from the creek bed and potentially shipped in from other Collier sites.
“We remove (the sand). We wash it. We clean it,” Nash said. “Sand is a much-needed natural resource that left unchecked can be a silting issue in the lake.”
Retiree Wallace Klussmann, who worked for Texas A&M University’s fisheries department, spent 30 years researching and assessing the health of ponds and lakes throughout the state. He lives at the headwaters of Sandy Creek in Prairie Mountain where the Llano River flows into the creek.
He has reservations about the plan to dredge the creek and called for research preceding permission to do so.
“I’ve seen Sandy Creek at flood stage. That amount of (dredging) disturbance to Sandy Creek, the amount of turbidity (silt) going into the lake, will be considerable,” Klussman said. “An environmental study needs to be done by a reputable company to determine what kind of impact that disturbance is going to have.”
He said at issue is primarily the habitat at the mouth of the creek where it empties into Lake LBJ in the Sunrise Beach area.
“They (Collier will) take the sand out and when it is washed put the silt back in. That silt is going to go downstream,” Klussmann said. “In terms of a fish standpoint, if muddy water goes down Sandy (Creek) and settles in the bottom of the lake, and it occurs during the spawning season (bass and sunfish), it could cover up the spawning beds.”
He believes the outcome could have a negative ripple effect on the rest of the lake’s habitat.
“From what I can understand, there’s not one thing that could be positive environmentally or fishery wise,” he said. “We need at-least a year-long study.”
Sunrise Beach City Council recently approved a resolution, opposing the operation.
Nash believes the operation, which he said may eventually include buy-in from his neighbors downstream, will expand the depth of the creek and increase the size of lake frontage due to less sand deposits into Lake LBJ.
He added that progress dictates the need for the project.
“Sand is essential to making concrete, hot mix asphalt. . . tile,” Nash said. “We’re taking something that is a problem (because of the sand bars), and catching the sand before it gets to the lake (LBJ).”