The deadline is approaching to file comments regarding a permit application for a private recreational dam across the South Llano River. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is holding a public meeting on the matter at 6 p.m. Aug. 10 in the Rocksprings ISD school auditorium, 201 U.S. 377 North. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey
The two-hour drive from Llano to Rocksprings should give concerned residents plenty of time to rehearse their comments opposing a proposed private dam across the South Llano River. A public meeting with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10, in the Edwards County town at the Rocksprings ISD school auditorium, 201 U.S. 377 North.
“It’s a long road trip for us here in Llano County, and we want people to know where we came from and that we are organized in opposition of this proposed dam,” Fermin Ortiz of Save Lake LBJ wrote in a statement to river advocate and lifelong Llano resident Patty Pfister.
Ortiz encouraged Highland Lakes residents against the dam to wear white to the meeting in solidarity.
The dam is building a coalition of opposers that includes state Rep. Andrew Murr (R-Junction), who represents both Llano and Edwards counties. He sent a request to the TCEQ to hold the meeting closer to his constituents who would be impacted by the dam, but as of Aug. 8, his letter had gone unanswered.
Other officials attending the meeting are Llano Mayor Marion Bishop, who plans to advocate on behalf of the city, which is completely reliant on water from the Llano River, and Llano County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry Don Moss, who will be there with a county delegation.
Many more have voiced their concerns about the dam online. According to Pfister, 811 comments have been filed with the TCEQ regarding the dam’s permit application, and a petition against the structure has 2,976 signatures.
Even Austin news station KXAN has caught wind of the issue and will air an investigative piece, “Dried Up,” from meteorologist David Yeomans on Wednesday.
The private dam would span the South Llano River in Edwards County, creating a 12.02-acre-foot private lake for the landowner to use for recreational purposes. Its proposed location is 100 miles away from the Highland Lakes, but the water it would impound would normally run through the Colorado River chain of lakes all the way to Austin, supplying communities along the way.
But for many opposing the dam, the real danger in allowing it is it would open the proverbial floodgates.
“If (this dam) is permitted, TCEQ will be setting a precedent for an unlimited number of dams to be built along the length of the Llano River,” Pfister told DailyTrib.com. “What grounds could the TCEQ deny future dams if this one is permitted?”
Pfister has been following the dam’s permit application since it was made public in May 2022. The permit request came from Waterstone Creek LLC, which has a Houston address and a named acting agent, Gregory C. Garland. Garland is the executive chairman of Phillips 66, the third-largest petroleum company in the United States. The original permit application came in 2018 and was declared administratively complete by January 2019.
You can submit formal comments up until the day of the public meeting through the TCEQ website using permit number WRPERM 13524 or attend the meeting in person and give your opinions on the dam and its potential impact.