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Opposition growing to South Llano River recreational dam proposal

South Llano River

Opposition is growing to an application for a permit to build a recreational dam on the South Llano River. Deadline for public comment or to request a contested case hearing is June 11. The Llano County Commissioners Court voted to make a hearing request during a special meeting Monday, June 6. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Llano County Commissioners Court voted to formally request a contested case hearing on a private recreational dam proposed on the South Llano River. The vote came during a special meeting Monday, June 6. The deadline to request a hearing or comment on the application is Friday, June 11. 

The Llano City Council is expected to discuss a similar vote at its June 6 meeting, which is at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall, 301 W. Main St. in Llano.

Waterstone Creek LLC filed Application No. 13524 with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requesting authorization to construct and maintain a dam and reservoir that would impound 12.02 acre-feet of water in Edwards County. Waterstone Creek, which lists a Houston address, also submitted a firm water contract with the Lower Colorado River Authority. 

“This is the most important thing we’ve seen in front of the Commissioners Court,” said Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry Don Moss. “The Llano River affects the town, not only Llano, but all the way down to the city of Horseshoe Bay. It runs all the way from one end of the county to the other.”

Commissioners brought up current drought conditions, pointing out that Lake Buchanan is down by 5 feet. 

“In 2015, we were looking at trucking water into the city of Llano,” said Precinct 2 Commissioner Linda Raschke. “This is the hottest May we’ve had; it’s the driest May we’ve had. We’re in dangerous territory right now.”

The resolution approved by commissioners includes opposition to the construction of any private dams for recreational purposes on the Llano River. 

“If someone needs to build a dam for a city or for people to drink, it’s different than recreation,” Moss said. “I think everyone here understands and knows how serious this is for Llano. If they build one, what’s to stop someone from building another or several?”

The Llano River Watershed Alliance is also generating opposition to the dam. The organization put up a website with detailed information on the TCEQ application and instructions on how to submit comments.

The group also expressed displeasure with how the public notice was handled. 

“Public notice was published in the The Texas Mohair Weekly May 12,” reads a document on the website. “Once the notice comes out in the paper (note doesn’t say what paper) TCEQ allows 30 days to submit public comment and request a public hearing.”

The group questions the use of The Texas Mohair Weekly as an adequate publication for public notice. The Weekly is part of The Rocksprings Record. Together, the two publications have a paid circulation of 1,100. Rocksprings is 125 miles southwest of Llano. 

“This may be the most important thing that involves Llano County,” Moss said. “Without water, we don’t have a town. I hope to see that these people do not get their permit issued and that they don’t get to build a dam.” 

To submit a comment online, you must have the TCEQ permit number, which is WRPERM 13524. Comments also may be sent by mail to: Office of the Chief Clerk, MC 105, TCEQ, P.O. Box 13087, Austin, TX 78711-3087. 

Once a hearing is requested, TCEQ staff forward the information to TCEQ commissioners, who will consider it at a scheduled meeting. The next four commission meetings are set for June 29, July 20, Aug. 10, and Aug. 24.