Tuesday, July 22, 2014
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.
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
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
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?