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Logjams ongoing problem in Victoria County

By Melissa Crowe
July 21, 2014 at 2:21 a.m.
Updated July 22, 2014 at 2:22 a.m.


OTHER ACTION

• Met in closed session for a private consultation with the county's attorney and to discuss real property.

• Received letter of permission to do work to improve drainage on Schaefer Road in Precinct 2

• Approved $182,582 payment to Texas Department of Transportation in connection with a $1.825 million water construction project at Victoria Regional Airport.

Victoria County Commissioners are facing questions about how to clear out logjams on the Guadalupe River.

Kenneth Schustereit, a Victoria County resident who spoke during Monday's meeting, worries logjams will cause the next flood in Victoria to be higher and faster than the event that hit Victoria in 1998.

"The river is plugged right now, and the river authority had the gall to issue a statement on the local TV station that they had neither the funds nor the responsibility to clean out those logjams," Schustereit said.

Victoria County Judge Don Pozzi said logjams have been on the court's radar for many years.

He said he would not "get into" who is responsible for maintaining the river.

"The solutions are in the hands of the courts," he said. "Somebody's got to be responsible, but it depends on who you talk to. I think it's yet to be determined."

Schustereit pointed to the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority's enabling act, which states part of its function is "to prevent or aid in the prevention of damage to person or property from the waters of the Guadalupe and Blanco rivers and their tributaries."

The river authority has maintained it has "no legal obligation to remove logjams," according to GBRA publications.

LaMarriol Smith, a spokeswoman with GBRA, said, "Logjams are a naturally occurring event and are not a component of the 'waters' of the Guadalupe River."

She recalled a time in the early 20th century when the San Antonio River changed course, and county lines had to be redrawn - "mostly as a result of meandering rivers associated with logjams and other natural occurrences."

"When GBRA has the manpower available after fulfilling its mandated obligations and has access to available funding, GBRA does assist with logjam removal," she said.

Cost estimates last spring were at $250,000 to remove logjams on the San Antonio River, a tributary to the Guadalupe River.

Since 1980, the river authority has spent $1.1 million clearing logjams on the two rivers.

The river authority has the equipment - a $330,000 barge, a $169,900 long-reach track hoe and a $41,000 small track hoe - to remove logjams.

It cleared logjams as part of a cost-sharing agreement with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, formerly the U.S. Soil Conservation Service, after the 1998 flood at a cost of $367,119, according to GBRA records. Later in 2003, 2004 and 2008, it cleared logjams on the San Antonio River without any financial compensation.

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