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LNRA Report: Study says damming river is feasible but a bad idea

By by Dianna Wray
Nov. 17, 2010 at 5:17 a.m.

Land owner Joe Prihoda listens intently early Wednesday morning as the Lavaca-Navidad River Authority board discusses the final study of a proposed dam on the Lavaca River.

Land owner Joe Prihoda listens intently early Wednesday morning as the Lavaca-Navidad River Authority board discusses the final study of a proposed dam on the Lavaca River.

EDNA - A dam won't be built on the Lavaca River, for now.

More than 30 people gathered in the Lavaca-Navidad River Authority meeting room on Wednesday morning to hear the final progress report on the feasibility study commissioned by the LNRA board.

The progress report, delivered by Mike Reedy, an engineer with Freese & Nichols, advised the river authority against putting a dam on the Lavaca River because of the community and environmental costs.

"Is it feasible? Yes, it technically is, but the impact associated just behind it lends a lot of questions as to what is really reasonable," Reedy said.

The study also found that damming the river would reduce the yield of water from Lake Texana by 6,600 acre-feet, Reedy said.

The study was created to examine whether a dam on the river to create a reservoir known as Palmetto Bend Stage II, or an off-site reservoir off the Lavaca River would be more economically and environmentally feasible.

The $310,000 study commissioned earlier this year, created a storm of tension in the community. Land owners and community members were on hand Wednesday to tell the board about their disapproval of the dam before the meeting opened.

"Make a decision, but make an informed decision, and understand both sides before you decide," Edna resident David Rose said.

Edna resident Brenda Jacobs questioned why they were doing the study, since there isn't anyone to buy the water yet.

"I'd like to know who is the highest bidder. If y'all were to break ground tomorrow, who would the highest bidder be?" Jacobs asked the board.

The river authority has discussed damming the river since January when Formosa Plastics, their second largest customer, indicated the company might need an additional 10,000 acre-feet of water by 2015.

But Formosa has not made an official request for more water.

Reedy recommended the board create an off-site reservoir on either the east or west side of the river with the water carried by pipeline to the reservoir.

However, as of right now, there are no plans to build anything, river authority general manager Patrick Brzozowski said.

The river authority has to have someone contracted who will pay the cost of getting the water before building any facilities. Right now, they have no one under contract for that, Brzozowski said.

For now, the study will go on the shelf for future use, Brzozowski said.

In its next step, the board will be presented with the official final report in December.

Brzozowski said the board will vote on whether to add the study's recommendations to the LNRA strategic plan in January, Brzozowski said.

After Wednesday's report was presented, community members seemed excited about the recommendation against an onsite dam on the river, but still cautious.

"It looks good, but you never know what they might still do," land owner Kenneth Koop said.

Land owner Jack Motley echoed Koop's concerns, but said he is still optimistic.

"I feel relieved because it looks like they're really not going to dam the river," Motley said.



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