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Save Medina Lake committee delivers petition

By Sula Combs Hondo Anvil Herald Special to the Co

Photo by Sula Combs
Save Medina Lake Committee members (from left) Michael Mulherin, Rachel Mulherin, Secretary, and Henning Eilert-Olson, President, spoke before the BMA October board meeting and presented them with over 10,000 signatures supporting conserving water in Medina Lake by better management of valve openings.

Members of the Save Medina Lake Committee delivered a petition with 10,000 signatures to Bexar Medina Atascosa Water Control and Improvement District #1 at their October 10 board meeting dealing with the management (or lack of management), of the valves of Medina Lake dam.
The roomful of Save Medina Lake members and supporters was initially told that only those with seats would be allowed in the room. They refused to leave, believing this was not legal. Then, at the beginning of the meeting, the BMA Board went into executive session, which resulted in the petitioners having to wait for over an hour.
While waiting, Save Medina Lake supporter Mike Crandall said he thinks the valves are kept open to keep Diversion Lake full. The owners of Medina Ranch, which is built around the lake, “have a lot of money,” and he thinks this influences the BMA to keep the valves open so Diversion Lake is kept full so the Medina Ranch properties will have lake water by their property.
When the Board reconvened, the petitioners were finally allowed to speak. Michael Mulherin, a mechanical engineer, spoke first. He has studied the amounts of water released by the valves relative to the amount of water in the lake. In his address to the Board he stated, ”The smallest valve, only one-half open, will release 200,000 acre feet a year out of a lake that contains 255,000 acre feet, about 80% of the lake’s water. The Medina Lake dam valves have the most influence on the lake’s level than any other factor—more than leakage, evaporation or aquifer recharge rates. So it is of utmost importance for you, the Board members to have the FACTS and to know how much water can be released from these valves, especially since there is NO flow meter to measure it.”
Rachel Mulherin spoke next and said, “The petition was initiated after two years of research by the committee where data clearly showed the lake had been mismanaged and the valves/gates on Medina Lake dam were left open the majority, if not all, of the time during the drought period, draining the lake to 6% of its capacity. Armed with this information, the committee set out on a communications campaign to inform the public why the lake was essentially empty.”
The petition states:
“While acknowledging the serious consequences of the drought in Texas, the undersigned hereby express deep concern over the way the water in Medina Lake has been managed and assert the entities managing the gates in Medina Dam must share the responsibility for draining Medina Lake. The undersigned wish to express support for the efforts undertaken by the Save Medina Lake Committee and urge local communities and the State of Texas to introduce measures ensuring the water will be conserved to the greatest extent possible.
Conservation and responsible management of the gates at the Medina Lake Dam is vital to realizing the importance of the lake for recharging the aquifer, securing water for irrigation and other downstream purposes, supporting fish and wildlife, securing water for firefighting and the local community as well as taking into account the economic and recreational interest associated with Medina Lake.”
Save Medina Lake Committee President Henning Eilert-Olson spoke next and told the BMA Board that starting about one and one-half years ago they started collecting signatures and already have 10,000. “Just a few of us managed to do this in a year and a half. This is something that is of concern to so many people.” He presented the Board with five oversize notebooks containing the signatures, but they did not want to see them. Their attitude throughout the meeting seemed negative, to discourage and deny the presentation by the Committee. However, with over 10,000 people supporting them, the Committee will continue their efforts to conserve the water in the lake.
For more information, visit http://www.savemedinalake.com, or email to water@SaveMedinaLake.com.