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Plan to save Lake McQueeney now up to voters to approve

Property owners have joined together to find a solution to repairing and maintaining the aging McQueeney Dam.
Credit: Dr. Larry Johnson

SEGUIN, Texas — For property owners along Lake McQueeney, the last year has been a rollercoaster of uncertainties in their plight to fix the aging McQueeney Dam and save the lake for future generations.

In the last year, neighbors have joined together to come up with a solution, and now that plan depends on what happens when voters head to the polls.

At Lake McQueeney Sunday afternoon, kids and teens performed their last water ski show of the season.

As the Ski Bees showcased their skills on the water for the last time this year, it also marks a beginning of renewed hope.

“This is our livelihood. This is our family, our culture, our lifestyle. And we want to maintain it,” said Matt Hannon who owns lakefront property along Lake McQueeney.

Hannon along with neighbors and the Friends of Lake McQueeney organization have been working for the last year to devise a solution to fixing and repairing the over 90-year-old dam.

“A community of people around Lake McQueeney area gathered together and started brainstorming, ‘What can we do? What avenues can we strive for to help repair our dam and replace it,’” said Hannon.  “There’s something that needs to happen.  We need to proactive and not be reactive.”

The Lake Dunlap Dam failed in May of last year,  draining the lake of most of the water and causing an outpouring of emotions from property owners along the other Guadalupe Valley Lakes.

The Guadalupe Blanco River Authority said they did not have the funding to repair the aging spillgates of Dunlap and voiced their concerns about the condition of the other dams at Lake Placid, McQueeney, Gonzalez, and Meadow.

“I think initially when we heard that the dams needed the amount of repairs that they needed, and that the government entity, the GBRA , wasn't necessarily motivated to make those investments into the dam, I think there was an initial reaction of anger, of disappointment,” said Hannon.

The frustration moved into a courtroom where property owners demanded the river authority to take action.

In July, a victorious settlement on one of the lawsuits set the ground for what’s happening this election at the ballot box, a solution to saving Lake McQueeney.

Propositions A, B, and C will be on the ballot for over 600 McQueeney property owners in the upcoming election, allowing voters to vote for or against the three options.

The propositions would officially confirm the creation of a Water Control and Improvement District that would in turn authorize an “ad valorem” tax on lakefront properties, and provide funding for operations and maintenance on the dam.

If all three propositions are approved by voters, the increase in taxes would be then used to repay a bond to repair and maintain the McQueeney Dam.

Hannon said the GBRA has also agreed to donate all revenue earned from hydro-electric power to repay the bonds.

“We need to be a team in this together. This isn't a community against government. This isn't blindly creating a deal. It's finding one that is achievable by both parties,” said Hannon.

The estimated cost of the project is $35 million.

All three propositions have to be approved to move forward with the project.

Hannon said the time to repair the dam and save the lake, is now.

“The challenge becomes if it doesn't pass this vote, the odds of getting the low interest money continues to dwindle,” said Hannon.  “The longer we wait, the higher the risk of the failure of our dam.”

Also on the ballot, voters will elect a board for the WCID.

“This is a life here. This is a community,” said Hannon. “We're one big family and we all want to see the water preserved, the dam preserved, and continue to create memories for generations to come,” said Hannon.