Sunday, October 25, 2015

City Should Have Nearly $500,000 for Twin Buttes in 2016

The City of San Angelo's Comprehensive 2014 Annual Financial Report indicated

San Angelo Water Supply Corporation
Project Name: Twin Buttes Dam and Reservoir (Twin Buttes) - Annual Payments of $450,000 to $470,000 are required through the year 2015 for the retirement of the contractor's debt. Total estimated payments are $16,327,293. The City is contractually obligated to operate and maintain the project storage works and the basic recreational facilities for the useful life of the project.
Payments will stop in 2016 finally freeing up money for the city to use on the Twin Buttes Master Recreation Plan.  The City can simply take the money it has been paying for Twin Buttes and use it to improve recreational conditions at Twin Buttes.

The City received an excellence award for the 2014 CAFR.  It should put the same energy toward getting a recreational excellence award at Twin Buttes.

City Parks Director Carl White spoke about Twin Buttes at Council's 10-6-15 meeting.  He said:

"To be honest I don't think we're doing a very good job of managing those properties right now.  It's a little hands off.  We think we need to improve that."
The city should have an extra $450,000 to $470,000 to do just that.

Friday, October 23, 2015

OC Fisher Up Over Four Feet

With floodwaters still miles away in Carlsbad and Grape Creek Lake O. C. Fisher rose four feet. That wipes out this summer's evaporation.  Thank heaven for the blessing.

Update 10-25-15:  O.C. Fisher is now up 6.5 feet at 1877 feet elevation.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

First Soaking Rain

Might it be enough to prime the South Pool for flow into the Equalization Channel? 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

City Council to Consider TPWD Public Hunting Program

Tuesday's City Council meeting will include a presentation on adopting the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Public Hunting Program for the recreational hunting lands at the Twin Buttes Reservoir properties.  The city has long offered public hunting around Twin Buttes.  TPWD's public hunting program currently lists San Angelo State Park.  It comes with an annual fee:

Access is provided by two types of annual permits: the $48 Annual Public Hunting (APH) Permit which allows full privileges including hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and other recreational uses and the $12 Limited Public Use (LPU) Permit which also provides access for all other recreational activities except hunting.
It's not clear how citizens will pay these fees or how funds will be used to improve primitive conditions at Twin Buttes.

Other than closing Twin Buttes for public fireworks the July 4th weekend this is the first recreation item City Council has considered on Twin Buttes since adopting a Master Recreation Plan.  The plan was created in 2012 and officially approved by council in 2013.

Progress has been slow to nonexistent on the City's Lake Nasworthy and Twin Buttes Master Plans.  Only one vendor bid to develop the Mary Lee Park area of Lake Nasworthy and the city rejected that bid as nonconforming.

Most city action at Twin Buttes since 2012 has been installing and removing pumps. My October water bill still has the "pumping fee" despite pumps having been removed in May of 2014.  I guess it's a perpetual fee.

The City recently played catch up by devoting another $4 million to San Angelo's Performing Arts Coalition, a project that has lingered since 2011.  I've long hoped Council would find the Twin Buttes project ripe for a kick start.  That hope will go on longer given Council materials state "there is no financial impact." Thus, staff recommends City Council stick to its miserly history in funding anything non-water at Twin Buttes.

Update 5-15-16:  City Council approved the TPWD Public Hunting Program in an April meeting.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Equalization Channel is Dry

Twin Buttes Equalization Channel is dry.  The South Pool is about a foot lower than a level that would begin sending water to the North Pool.  I paddleboarded at both pools over the weekend.  Light winds provided the right conditions for paddling. 

With summer fading and a chance of rain in the near future the EQ could flow again soon.  Twin Buttes pumps were pulled in May 2014 but the fee remains on citizens' water bills.  Pray for rain.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Lake Ivie Up: Week and Last 90 Days

Lake Ivie rose 15,000 acre feet in the last week.  The rise over the last ninety days is roughly 20,000 acre feet.

These increases relieve pressure for the city to use water in Twin Buttes.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Friday, July 3, 2015

North Pool Keeps Rising

It was quiet at the North Pool this afternoon.  The water is up a foot from last weekend.  Tomorrow is July 4th.  It will be interesting to see where area citizens fire off their July 4th fireworks with Twin Buttes out of play. 

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. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Flood Warning in San Angelo

A flash flood warning is in effect until 10:30 pm.  It remains to be seen how much water ends up in area lakes and reservoirs.  The news reported many people without power as well.  Pray for safety in the midst of the blessing of rain. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

O.H. Ivie's Turn?

The Colorado River flowed heavy last night and today from last night's rains.  This should end up in Lake Ivie and produce drinking water for Abilene, San Angelo and Midland.  We'll see how much. 

Update 5-30-15:  Ivie now holds over 80,500 acre feet, an increase of 8,000 acre feet since the rains began earlier this month.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Runoff Rains a Blessing

Twin Buttes North Pool gained nearly five feet of water due to recent runoff rains.  Lake O.C. Fisher has been the big beneficiary of last week's heavy rain.

Rains turned our mud puddle into an actual lake.  It's a blessing!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Twin Buttes North Pool Rises

Great news!  O.C. Fisher is up over 20 feet in elevation.  E.V. Spence now holds over 20,000 acre feet of water. 

Middle Concho up Five Feet

Graph of  Gage height, feet

Overnight rains impacted the Middle Concho River the most, while slight rises occurred in the South Concho, Spring Creek and Dove Creek. The street in front of my house put at least 100 acre feet in Lake Nasworthy (my guess). I've never seen it that high in nearly twenty years. I windsurfed Twin Buttes North Pool on Saturday and my daggerboard scapped bottom in several locations. I look forward to seeing the impact of Middle Concho River flow on the North Pool. Thank heaven for this blessing.

Friday, May 15, 2015

New Water Board Has One Tall Tale

San Angelo Live reported on the first meeting of the new Water Advisory Board with our new Water Utilities Director.  :

Bill Riley, being the City of San Angelo Water Utilities Director and most informed and seasoned in the expertise of the city's water situation,...
I'm sure Mr. Riley knows water.  I find it hard to believe he is the most informed regarding San Angelo's water situation given its history under former Water Chiefs Will Wilde and Ricky Dickson.

San Angelo Live offered:

Lake Spence, which is also supposed to supply the city water supply, is virtually dry right now, and hasn’t captured any significant gain in the last couple of years, taking Spence out of the equation.
Lake E.V. Spence has more water than Twin Buttes, 14,770 acre feet  vs. 9,427according to the Texas Water Development Board.  It is up nearly 6,000 acre feet in the last month   As for the last couple of years Spence held 30,000 acre feet in 2013.  Besides being wrong on Spence's water volume, Mr. Riley and San Angelo Live are missing the most basic fact as to why we get no water directly from Lake Spence.  The city's pipeline no longer works.

In justifying the Hickory Aquifer pipeline construction to a former Water Board in July 2009 minutes showed. 

Mr. Wilde stated the Lake Spence water supply pipeline has experience problems and issues, primarily due to the materials used; therefore not a viable water source.
When the city updated its website it lost a rich trove of documents, including the link to this statement.  I don't fault Mr. Riley or San Angelo Live for not knowing.  Consider this their opportunity to learn.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Setup for Runoff Rains?

The Weather Channel's ten day forecast shows six days with chances of rain between 40% and 80%.  The further out in time there's less certainty the prediction will hold, but I'm liking our chances.  I went to the North Pool at Twin Buttes for the first time this year.  I would both windsurf and paddleboard on the lake at these levels.  There are fairly safe sections of water (depth wise) for windsurfing.  The Equalization Channel is still flowing from the South Pool, so that is the safest place to windsurf in a South wind, especially for beginners.  I'm praying the prediction holds and our lakes take on water.  That would be a blessing. 

Update 5-10-15:  No luck yet on the runoff but the ground is now wet and a similar week is forecast.  Pray for rain! 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Rain in Watershed

Storms moving through West Texas fit nicely over Twin Buttes watershed.  Pray for a substantial dousing.  Wishing all a blessed Easter.