Wednesday, July 1, 2015

City Changes Stance on Twin Buttes

Twin Buttes Reservoir’s Marina Park will be open for camping only Friday through Sunday. All other gates leading to the reservoir will be locked.

 The road to Marina Park will be barricaded and manned to screen those entering to ensure they are there to camp and that they do not possess fireworks. Twin Buttes is owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which prohibits the possession or discharge of fireworks on its property.

Camping will also be allowed off of the reservoir’s equalization channel, which connects its north and south pools. Campers must call the San Angelo Police Department’s non-emergency dispatch number, 325-657-4315, to request an officer to unlock the gates and give them access.

Note:  This press release came from Mayor Morrison.  I thank him for his responsiveness.

July 4th Shutdown in San Angelo

The City of San Angelo has long treated Twin Buttes Reservoir as a mere afterthought.  Significant resources have gone to Lake Nasworthy and a mere pittance toward Twin Buttes in my twenty five years here.  Ever since the lessee walked in 1996 the city provided minimal services with begrudging effort.  Essentially the only service left was fireworks cleanup from Twin Buttes annual trashing.  Now that's gone.

The contrast between Nasworthy and Twin Buttes can be seen in the city's approach to big events.  How much did the city spend to cleanup up after last weekend's Lake Nasworthy boat races, known as The Showdown in San Angelo?  Compare that with Twin Buttes July 4th shutdown.  I wrote my City Councilman and the Mayor Monday evening and so far I've not gotten a response.  I'll post it if one arrives. 

Dear Councilman Fleming and Mayor Morrison,

I read the news of the city's closing Twin Buttes Reservoir for the weekend of July 4th. While I've long lamented the annual trashing of Twin Buttes I never thought the city would close the park completely. One of the missions of the Bureau of Reclamation is recreation. July 4th is a holiday weekend where people travel to recreate. Water destinations in West Texas are quite a draw, especially lakes with rising water levels like Twin Buttes.

I ask you to read the San Angelo Living supplement in this weekend's Standard Times. It markets Twin Buttes as having chemical toilets (removed over a decade ago) and camper hookups (not longer working and inside pipe rail). While it is expressly not truth in advertising, it did go out to tens of thousands of homes in the Concho Valley and beyond.

The City adopted a Master Recreation Plan for Twin Buttes in 2013. City Council sets policy and closing Twin Buttes completely for July 4th weekend is a major change in policy. When did Council have this on the agenda and when did it approve such a change? The public's voice was not sought or included.

I am an avid windsurfer and paddle boarder and looked forward to recreating at Twin Buttes during the day this coming weekend. It is not safe for me to do either sport at Lake Nasworthy due to high boat traffic.
Twin Buttes is ideal for both sports as few boats are able to launch at current lake levels.

I ask you to explain this decision to me as my representative to City Council. I look forward to your reply. Sincerely,

TBR blog author

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Feds Respond on Twin Buttes Closure for July 4th

I reached out to a representative with the federal agency that owns Twin Buttes Reservoir and the surrounding land.  The Texas Water Development Board website states the following about Twin Buttes:

The project is owned by the United States government and operated by the United States Bureau of Reclamation for flood control, water supply, irrigational, and recreational purposes. 
My question and their response are below:  

Q: I would appreciate any information the Bureau of Reclamation can share with me as to how the decision came about to close Twin Buttes over July 4th weekend. Last I knew the Bureau wanted the City to do more at Twin Buttes Reservoir. Closure for a holiday weekend is clearly doing less.

I am using Twin Buttes more as both a windsurfer and paddleboarder. I am grateful for the rising water levels and planned to be on the water this weekend. Twin Buttes is by far the best lake in San Angelo for these two sports. Lake Nasworthy is lethal for non-motored craft, as you may have noticed in the news. I hope to learn more about how this bad decsion was made and why it was so poorly communicated.  I have written my City Councilperson regarding this decision.

A:  The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) has entered into an agreement with the City of San Angelo where they are fully responsible for all the operations and maintenance (O&M) of the facility and reservoir.

Reclamation does not direct day to day O&M issues and concerns. Closing the reservoir is a City decision and since this is a management or operation decision to control illegal activity, the City is within their right to do so. The correct approach as you stated is for you to contact your councilperson or city staff.
I've done both and will include their responses/nonresponses in the next post.  It's not clear if entering Twin Buttes over the weekend will be illegal activity in and of itself. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Twin Buttes Closed for July 4th Weekend

The City of San Angelo informed the public that Twin Buttes Reservoir will be closed July 4th weekend, citing last year's problems with fireworks trash.  The public got less than a week's notice that they will be unable to enjoy one of San Angelo's three lakes. 

The Bureau of Reclamation has an agreement with the City of San Angelo to operate the park on the north shore of the North Pool. The Bureau of Reclamation highlights recreation use at its locations, including Twin Buttes Reservoir.

Manages, with partners, 289 recreation sites that have 90 million visits annually.

There will be no visits this weekend.   It's unclear if City Council played a role in this major policy change.  Council did approve a Master Recreation Plan for Twin Buttes in 2013.  The city solicited public input into the plan, something not sought in the July 4th shutdown. 

The plan recommended a number of items that could've reduced the trash concern, if implemented:
 It also encouraged the city to plan and conduct special events, the opposite of complete park closure:
For July 4th weekend 2015 the city will decrease use of the recreation area to zero.  Because the city can't manage its annual trash problem responsible citizens will be shut out.  It's the latest poorly planned, poorly executed and poorly communicated decision by city staff.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

North Pool Up 3 Inches

Summer is normally the time Twin Buttes Reservoir declines day after day, largely due to evaporation.  Weekend rains added three inches to the North Pool. 

Lake Spence added 1,500 acre feet.  It holds roughly 8,000 more acre feet than Twin Buttes' combined pools.  The difference is also the volume the city stands to regain through reclaiming waste water.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Twin Buttes up 1.5 Feet

Another blessing for Twin Buttes Reservoir.  I paddle boarded and windsurfed the North Pool on Sunday.  There's a fair amount of flood debris ringing the shoreline but the main body seemed obstruction free.  At this level we should be pump free for awhile. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Kayakers Hit by Jet Ski on Lake Nasworthy

Yesterday evening a man driving a jet ski struck two kayakers in front of Angelo State University Lake House.  A 19 year old woman was saved by here life vest while her friend, a 20 year old male remains missing.  Officials are searching the water for his body.

Crews are searching the lake today, a summer weekend day with high water traffic.  This is terrible news for the family of the missing man.  It's tragic, plain and simple.

Lake traffic is the reason I windsurf and paddleboard anywhere but Lake Nasworthy when the water's warm.  The story indicated sun may have been a factor in the accident.  If a boater cannot see they have a duty to back off on speed.

More details will emerge in this profoundly sad situation.  Pray for all impacted by this tragedy and think about the safety of others next time you hit the water.

Update 6-7-15:  The police released more details about the man killed in the boat collision. Manuel C. Rivas, Jr.was an ASU student.