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The permit application to build a controversial private dam across the South Llano River was withdrawn from consideration on Oct. 20.

Edwards County landowner Gregory C. Garland withdrew the application with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality after months of public opposition to the project

Garland gave public notice of his desire to build a private recreational dam across the South Llano River on his Edwards County ranch in May 2022. Ever since, several local governments, water advocacy groups, and hundreds of Texas residents between Edwards and Travis counties have voiced their staunch opposition to the dam’s construction. 

“As we go forward we can be encouraged that we have proven that we are stronger together, and together we can and we did make a difference,” wrote Patty Pfister in an email announcement about the permit application withdrawal. 

Pfister is a lifelong Llano County resident and one of the strongest voices among those against the dam. 

The proposed private dam would have impounded about 12 acre-feet of water on the South Llano River, which merges with the North Llano River in Junction. Together, they form the Llano River, which eventually flows into Lake LBJ, providing a substantial amount of water to communities dependent upon the Highland Lakes. 

Governments opposing the dam included the city councils of Llano and Austin and the Llano County Commissioners Court. The Central Texas Water Coalition, Save Lake LBJ, and the Llano River Watershed Alliance also rallied against it. Texas Rep. Andrew Murr and state Sen. Pete Flores spoke up for their constituents.

More than 880 public comments opposed the TCEQ permit application. The state agency also received 139 requests for public hearings and 113 requests for public meetings. According to Pfister, 6,600 people signed a petition against the application.

This is the latest water win for Highland Lakes residents. Permit applications to build two dredging operations and two sand processing plants on Lake LBJ were withdrawn from consideration by the Lower Colorado River Authority on Oct. 23. And in September, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department ordered a Mason County landowner to remove an illegal dam across the James River, another Highland Lakes tributary.

“This is a great week for Central Texas,” Save Lake LBJ President Fermin Ortiz told regarding the recent victories. “On behalf of Save Lake LBJ, I would like to thank Mr. Garland for doing the right thing for all his Central Texas neighbors.”

Save Lake LBJ is holding a public town hall on water issues at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Sunrise Beach Village Civic Center, 124 Sunrise Drive.