STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS
The prospect of lakes LBJ and Marble Falls remaining lowered through March 18 — after Spring Break — caused concern among businesses over lost revenue from visitors.
On one hand, businesses and property owners needed the extra time for repairs and maintenance. On the other, potential lost revenue during Spring Break had some business owners reaching out to local leaders and the Lower Colorado River Authority to request the lakes be refilled before Spring Break.
On Feb. 7, the LCRA announced it will refill Lake LBJ beginning Feb. 24. LCRA announced a three-week extension on Feb. 1 for the lakes to remain lowered.
Lake Marble Falls remains scheduled to be refilled beginning March 18.
City and county officials had requested the three-week extension, and, in the week since, requested a shorter lowering timeframe for Lake LBJ, according to the LCRA.
“After further evaluating the timetable for the drawdown, elected officials on Lake LBJ have now informed us that shortening the drawdown to February 24 works better for their constituents,” LCRA General Manager Phil Wilson said in a statement. “LCRA is pleased to be responsive to our local elected officials, and at their request, we’ll begin refilling Lake LBJ on February 24.”
The Horseshoe Bay Business Alliance on Feb. 6 sent a survey to members to gauge their concerns.
“We heard back from maybe a handful of members; most had contacted (Horseshoe Bay Mayor Steve Jordan) or LCRA,” association Executive Director Francie Dix said.
Jordan said that after hearing from residents, “I believe beginning the refill of Lake LBJ on February 24 is the right thing to do.”
Dix said the board wanted to gather input and data to present to the LCRA to consider refilling Lake LBJ before Spring Break. After the Feb. 7 announcement, Dix said flood repair efforts along the lake will continue.
“But to at least get back to normal, that would be nice,” she said.
Burnet and Llano county judges spoke of their appreciation for the revised refill date of Lake LBJ.
“We are appreciative of LCRA collaborating with the 2018 flood-affected counties and cities to meet the needs of our citizens and businesses,” Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham said in a statement. “There is no single schedule for lowering the rivers and lakes to meet everyone’s needs; however, the revised schedule for refilling Lake LBJ will allow our communities and businesses to restore operations, which will better serve our citizens and visitors to our communities.”
Burnet County Judge James Oakley said he applauded the revised Lake LBJ schedule.
“As always, Phil Wilson and his LCRA team have proven themselves to be responsive to the input of local elected officials and deliberate in their action,” Oakley said in a statement.
The sentiment along Lake Marble Falls was not the same as for Lake LBJ.
“My constituents who own properties on the river appreciate that their work to repair their docks and remove debris will be allowed to continue to March 18,” Marble Falls Mayor John Packer said. “We need this additional time and thank LCRA for being responsive to our request.”
Lake LBJ is expected to be filled by Feb. 27. Refilling of Lake Marble Falls is scheduled to begin March 18 and conclude by March 21.