Dozens of Highland Lakes residents attended a public meeting on June 14 regarding the potential construction of two sand and gravel processing plants on the shores of Lake LBJ in Kingsland. Speaker Fermin Ortiz gave a presentation on the projects and what residents can do to stop them. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey
Save Lake LBJ is encouraging Highland Lakes residents to contact their elected officials and take a stand against two sand and gravel processing plants and two dredging operations to feed them that are proposed for a stretch of shoreline on Lake LBJ in Kingsland.
Dozens of people attended a public meeting on June 14 during which lake advocates laid out the potential impacts on the area’s environment and tourism if four permits for Collier Materials Inc. are approved by the Lower Colorado River Authority. They also talked strategy for how to stop them.
“The best plan of action is to contact our state reps, state senator, commissioners, any elected official, and let them know where you stand,” said Fermin Ortiz, a member of Texans for Responsible Aggregate Mining. “I think we have a legitimate argument and we have a legitimate cause to stop (the construction of the plants), and, God willing, we’ll be able to do it.”
Ortiz gave a thorough presentation on the topic during the meeting. He was invited by Save Lake LBJ leadership to explain the inner workings of the permitting process that Collier Materials is currently undergoing to get the green light on its projects from the LCRA. The permits are currently under review by the river authority.
The Marble Falls-based aggregate mining company is applying to build two separate plants to process sand dredged from two locations on Lake LBJ.
Kingsland Sand Plant 1 would be located on CR 309 on the southern bank of the Llano River. Kingsland Sand Plant 2 would be at the confluence of the Llano and Colorado rivers off of RM 2900.
Before any construction takes place, Collier Materials needs several permits from various regulatory agencies prior to obtaining the final permits from the LCRA.
According to Ortiz, these plants will have an enormous negative impact on the area. The submitted permit applications from Collier Materials state that up to a hundred 18-wheelers would travel in and out of each plant every day of operation. Dredging operations would severely limit boat travel on the lake, reducing navigable water to a width of 50 feet at its narrowest point. Property values would likely be impacted due to the presence of the plants, the area’s tourism businesses could suffer, and water quality might be greatly reduced.
Ortiz also addressed a spreading rumor concerning the “necessity” of removing the sand to prevent flooding and increase reservoir capacity. Collier Materials’ permits ask for a total of 1,317 acre-feet of sand from Lake LBJ — 0.99 percent of the total water volume of the lake, which is 112,778 acre-feet. This means the removal of the sand would increase the reservoir’s capacity by less than one percent.
As of now, the company has only acquired two permits from the TCEQ. Four permits submitted with the LCRA are administratively complete and under review. According to Ortiz, the TPWD permits will be the most difficult for Collier Materials to obtain. The department requires permits for the removal of the sand and the relocation of endangered species.
A letter issued to Ortiz by TPWD Aquatic Resources Permitting and Consultation Program Leader Tom Heger said Collier Materials has not communicated with the department about a sand and gravel permit or an aquatic resource relocation plan.
Collier Materials currently has a 10-year lease with landowners near Lake LBJ, but it also has three options for renewal, which could lead to a potential 40 years of sand mining.
“There is plenty of sand on land. They don’t have to ruin our lakes for this,” Ortiz said. “We’ve got to stop it right here, we’ve got to stop it right now, or we’ll live to regret it. The positive thing is that we can stop it, and we will, and we won’t give up.”