Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Twin Buttes Feeders Primed

Today's rains have local streams and arroyos flowing.  The South Concho River feeds Twin Buttes Reservoir's South Pool, which isn't far below the level where water flows into the Equalization Channel. 

I paddle boarded and windsurfed the South Pool this past weekend.  The water had cooled but I didn't need neoprene.  I expect that to change with fifty degree or lower rain. 

I sailed the North Pool on Sunday with a 6.0 square meter sail and 110 liter shortboard.  The water level had me worried about underwater obstructions, so I hope the North Pool takes on water.  Otherwise it will be a South Pool fall/winter sailing season. 

I checked a number of Concho River and area creek gauges (upstream of Twin Buttes) and none looked remarkable.  My hope is the rain thus far primed the ground for runoff and bountiful rains follow.  It's mid-level Pacific moisture which gave us our last two monster runoff events.  I'm praying for a few feet rise. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

EQ Still Flowing, but Barely

To my surprise Twin Buttes South Pool is still sending water to the North Pool.  I thought it would've run dry under our recent 100 degree temperatures.

I visited the South Pool to see the water level and noticed the barely visible huge boulders installed by the city to keep people away from the pumping setup.  The picture above shows two water hazards made by the City of San Angelo.  The rusted pipe railing extends into the water.  I remarked to a City employee during installation that they were creating a safety hazard.

About where the pipe railing disappears into the water is the line of huge boulders.  Their tips extend to the left and run about the width of the picture.  These also have been unmarked since the South Pool rose during our May rain event.

The pad below once held three pumps that moved water into the Equalization Channel.  

The pumps disappeared in May but the "pumping fee" remains on our water bill.  I'm not sure when it too will disappear, but if I hear anything, I'll let you know.

Update 9-14-14:  The EQ is high and dry but there's plenty of water in the South Pool.  Good runoff rains should get it flowing again.

Update 11-4-14:  The October water bill still shows the "Pumping Fee."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer Heat to Bake Twin Buttes

I visited Twin Buttes South Pool the last two weekends and couldn't believe water still flowed through the Equalization Channel.  I expect this week's 100 degree heat and corresponding evaporation to end the flow.

Ten days ago I windsurfed using a 7.5 square meter Naish sail and Mistral Equipe, a light air course board.  I had a blast, sailing for an hour before the wind died.  At that point I let my sail dry on the beach and grabbed my paddle.  I launched the Equipe and began paddling straight across the lake.

After ten feet or so my fin hit something and the board stopped completely.  I was puzzled by what that could be.  I was fifteen feet away from shore and had struck a significant underwater obstruction.  I looked down and could see nothing.  I backed up a little and paddled again.  The fin struck a second time.  Then I remembered the city had installed six or seven huge rocks in front of the pump pad.

I was grateful not to have hit those rocks while planing on a windsurfer.  I wondered if any boaters hull, motor or prop hit those rocks.  When city staff installed the pipe railing I told them they were creating an underwater obstruction, a potential safety hazard.  They seemed nonplussed.

The huge rocks are a much greater safety hazard, one capable of causing serious harm and damage.  With the water level dropping they should soon be in view.  That will enable lake users to recognize the danger and take appropriate action.

The city installed the rocks and pipe railing and could mark these as hazards for South Pool users.  Might that get into the Twin Buttes Master Plan?  We shall see.

I am grateful for the cooler than normal summer to date and that water was still flowing through the Equalization Channel.  It's been a blessing. 

Twin Buttes Has None of the Above

First, the City of San Angelo locked the toilets at Twin Buttes Reservoir.  Then they bulldozed them.  Despite getting a grant from the Texas Department of Parks and Recreation for new bathrooms and a boat ramp, the City only built the boat ramp.  This happened a decade or so ago.

City maintenance installed pipe rail around the former camping site, which once had electricity and water.  Later they razed the marina.

In the late 1990's I repeatedly asked the city to do better at the park on the North Shore of Twin Buttes Reservoir.  They decided in 2012 to embrace this theme and started work on a Master Recreation Plan for Twin Buttes.  In the midst of that process the city pipe railed much of the park, leaving only a few access points to the water.

Hundreds enjoyed July 4th fireworks over the weekend.  Many were campers.  Some spent three days at a park with no electricity, water or bathrooms.  They left quite a mess, which is symbolic of Twin Buttes the last twenty years.

It's not possible to shame the City of San Angelo regarding Twin Buttes.  Their inauthentic representation of the park's amenities has gone on far too long.  Deliver the shiny words foisted on the public or accurately represent the park's bleak and spartan condition.  Five words should do it:  It's the wild, wild west.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Annual Trashing of Twin Buttes: Pattern Repeats

I toured the city maintained park at Twin Buttes Reservoir this morning and saw vistas of July 4th trash.  I drove through the Old Mariina parking lot, past its bare concrete foundation.  The volume of trash was staggering.  It looked like the two volunteers bagging fireworks refuse felt similarly.  It brought back memories of my picking up shoreline trash in the late 1990's and early 2000's.

As I neared the covered picnic benches trash volume increased exponentially.  From the loop's beginning to the new boat ramp garbage was everywhere.  Campers remained in their spots, seeming surrounded by trash.

I don't know how many people stayed all weekend in an area with no electricity, no water and no bathrooms, but there were hundreds there Friday early evening. 

The City received funds to install bathrooms with the new boat ramp grant.  It never did.  The City paid for a consultant to conduct a Master Recreation Plan for Twin Buttes but there has been no progress since public input was given in 2012.

I've seen the city do one thing since kicking off this study, install pipe railing to restrict citizen access.

Otherwise, it's business as usual at Twin Buttes.  That's not change

Update 7-7-14:  San Angelo Live ran a story on lakeside trash from July 4th.  One resident said the trash at Twin Buttes was the worst he'd ever seen.  Not what you'd expect under a newly adopted Master Plan.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Twin Buttes on July 4th

A quick tour of the South Pool at Twin Buttes revealed the lake to be up roughly ten feet from the last time I visited (before May's runoff rains).  The caliche road to the South Pool was rutted and I saw the first damaged gate, pulled over by four wheelers.

Water flowed through the Equalization Channel and I saw standing water where the pipes had been.

Due to water levels and pipe railing there is very little drivable shore access on the North side of the South Pool.  It was great seeing so much water.  The elevation stood at just over 1927 feet.

The drive to the North Pool took me past Lake Nasworthy.  Thousands staked out prime spots for this evening's fireworks display.  I passed two fireworks stands on Highway 67.  Business looked brisk.

At the city maintained park at Twin Buttes North Pool I saw hundreds of people, some already shooting off fireworks.  People were spread out across the park.  Some set up in the Old Marina parking lot, others used the covered picnic table areas, while many parked in the new boat ramp lot.  Another set ringed the shore across from the island.

The city had one large dumpster in the Marina lot and another in the boat ramp parking area.  We'll see how many use it.

Historically, July 4th has been the annual trashing of Twin Buttes.  Will the pattern repeat?

Monday, June 9, 2014

South Pool Flow Beats Pumping

The amount of natural flow from Twin Buttes South Pool exceeds that of three rented pumps.

The pumps' diesel tanks wait for removal at the end of the paved section as one drives to the South Pool after crossing the Equalization Channel.

Add the bump from rain the last two days and the flow should last a bit longer.

Accessing the South Pool might be a challenge for those without four wheel drive.

The good news is the North Pool has water, lots of it.  I windsurfed Saturday, perfectly rigged for the gusts with a 6.0 sail and a 130 liter F2 shortboard.  I realized I'd missed the rollers that develop with a longer fetch.  The water was comfortable, but seemed darker than before.  Debris ringed the shoreline.

In the midst of all that was new and old, I felt an incredible peace, a deep satisfaction.  It felt like home.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Twin Buttes' Massive Increase?

Either the news is much better than I thought or the Standard Times had a typo.  I'm hoping for the former. The Texas Water Development Board has Twin Buttes with 16,635 acre feet.  I thought this data only included the North Pool.  Adding the South Pool's roughly 5,000 acre feet gets Twin Buttes to the 21,500 acre foot level.  It's something to celebrate.    

Friday, May 30, 2014

North Pool Looking Good

Twin Buttes North Pool keeps rising, ever so slowly.  A few days ago the Equalization Channel looked like the old days.

Here's the view from the North Pool's Finbuster Beach on May 27th.  The North Pool is at least a foot higher since this picture was taken:

I'll be able to windsurf the North Pool again.  For that I am grateful.

Update 6-10-14:  The North Pool is over 1899 feet elevation!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Spring Creek Didn't Rise Like 2012

One oddity arose out of our area's recent runoff rains.  Why didn't Spring Creek rise like its counterparts during our five day rain event.  Dove Creek and the Middle Concho River had much different flow:

Here's how Spring Creek looked in September 2012 after Tropical Storm Norman's moisture hit our area.  Its flow was over seven times greater in that flood event.

I believe a factor is diversion of the Lopez draw, which runs into Spring Creek.  An oilfield water seller drilled wells and excavated smack in the middle of the draw.

When the City of San Angelo explored capturing water from the Red Arroyo, consultants stated the state of Texas controlled water flowing through a conveyance, a place where water flows intermittently.  I assume Lopez Draw is like the Red Arroyo and the state would've needed to approve any efforts to capture the water. I doubt that occurred and suspect changes in Spring Creek flow to be indicative of diversion. 

North Pool's Rise Nearly Sixteen Feet

Most recent instantaneous value read 1,898.04 on 05-29-2014 at 17:45 CDT.  That's a sixteen foot rise from 1882. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mudders Trash Gates & Roads

The Standard Times reported:

San Angelo police are seeking information about damages to three gates, including one that was torn off the hinges, and roads at the Equalization Channel this weekend — causing $5,000 to $8,000 worth of damage.

Sometime in the late-night hours of Saturday to the early morning hours of Sunday, someone forced entry and damaged the gates and the maintained roads leading to the North Pool of Twin Buttes, police said. The vehicle then went “mudding” on the dirt road.

“One of (the gates) looked like someone hooked onto it with a big pickup and a chain and jerked it completely off its hinges,” Operations Director Shane Kelton said.

At least two other gates had latches busted or broken, he said.

This is not good news.  I lost windsurfing access for months the last time a knucklehead damaged pumps at the South Pool.

Lake and Park Police closed the gates about 5:30 p.m. Friday after the first rain spell came through the city, Kelton said. The city began locking the area years ago when officials noticed people tearing up roads every time it rained.

A Standard-Times reporter said he saw hundreds of pickups and all-terrain vehicles at the Equalization Channel this weekend.

“Once the gates came down, it was just a free-for-all,” Kelton said.

With all the debris and repair needed in the city, he said it would be quite some time before crews can fix the roads and gates.

Anyone with information about the identity or location of the person, or people, involved are asked to call the Police Department’s 24-hour Tip Hotline at 855-847-7247 or text TIP SAPD followed by the message to 888777.

When irresponsible people trash Twin Buttes, responsible users often pay the price.  I don't know the best way to deter people intent on doing harm to property, but I do want Twin Buttes to remain accessible to responsible citizens.

Part of Twin Buttes existence is recreation. I'm not sure how Twin Buttes Master Recreation Plan accommodates four wheelers of all sizes, but it bears exploration.

North Pool up Fifteen Feet

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fourteen Feet & Rising

The North Pool is up fourteen feet and it should rise more.

Memorial Day Weekend Rains Bust Drought

In five days San Angelo made up a seven inch rainfall deficit.  Not only did preciptation surge into the "above average" category, runoff rains filled Lake Nasworthy and added huge amounts to area lakes. The Standard Times reported:

As of 10:45 p.m. Monday, the National Weather Service of San Angelo reported the city’s year-to-date rainfall at 7.82 inches as precipitation was still falling. Monday’s downpour put San Angelo above the rainfall average. The normal year-to-date total for this time of year is 7.47 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
Concho River flow in San Angelo provides a picture of the rainfall events from Thursday to Monday evening.

Pecan Creek's flow is also an indicator of the rains pulses received over the five day period.

The North Concho River feeds O.C. Fisher Lake.  It stands to get more water given increased flow upstream.  Here's the view from Sterling City and Carlsbad:

So far O.C. Fisher is up roughly seven feet.

Twin Buttes is up twelve feet and tributary flow indicates more is on the way.  The Middle Concho River, Dove and Spring Creeks feed Twin Buttes North Pool.


The North Pool is also fed by the South Concho River via the Equalization Channel.

These images indicate the North Pool's elevation should continue to rise.  Twelve feet and counting.

This more than barely breaks our drought.  Our abundant holiday rains are life giving and sustaining.  They are a blessing and I am grateful.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Runoff Rains Beat Tropical Storm Norman

The Standard Times reported:

Chuck Brown, director of Operations for the Upper Colorado River Authority, said runoff amounts still are not final yet, but he estimated Twin Buttes Reservoir would catch 15,000 acre-feet, about 4.89 billion gallons. An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons.

“15,000 acre feet for Twin Buttes is a good, realistic number we could hope for,” Brown said Monday.

The North Pool is up ten feet and the South Pool is no longer a dead pool.  Tropical Storm Norman doubled the volume in Twin Buttes North Pool from roughly 5,000 to 10,000 acre feet in September 2012.  It drove away Gajeske's three pumps from the South Pool.

Memorial Day weekend rains already caused the relocation of three Gajeske pumps at the North Pool.   It remains to be seen what the City does with the remaining South Pool pumps. 

How much higher will Twin Buttes get over the next few days?  I'll let you know.

 The blessing continues.

North Pool Has Nine Foot Rise

Enough water flowed into Twin Buttes North Pool to endanger the three pumps transferring water to Lake Nasworthy.  City officials said they were trying to remove the pumps yesterday afternoon.  It's not clear if they got them out in time.  The City has not issued a press release and there have no been no followup reports from local media, but I'm assuming they were successful. 

Pumps at the South Pool are safe thanks to the Equalization Channel, which flowed at greater volume due to runoff rains.

The South Concho feeds the South Pool:

I'll venture the South Pool is up over eight feet and contributing to the North Pool's gains, which also come courtesy of the Middle Concho River.

The final total remains to be seen, but count me as highly thankful.