Flow Committee Report

The drought is over and beneficial rainfall has filled Canyon Lake to the point of making flood control releases mandatory for the past month. As I write this, the expectation of fishable (safe wading) flows of 450 cfs or less will be late December or January. Beyond that, flows are likely to be a lot higher than last winter's trickle and everyone should be careful while wading, as moving water exerts a deceptively powerful force.

Since September, Canyon Lake has been slowly "turning over" as heat escapes from the warm surface causing the water to become denser and sink to a depth where it is of equal density with the surrounding water column. This pushes formerly submerged layers of water to the surface. The process continues until water from the lake's bottom reaches the surface and the entire water column from top to bottom is turning over. At the coldest point, Canyon Lake's water temperature is likely to be the same from top to bottom. As the season begins to warm, the lake layers out into a warm surface and a cold under-story. The depth from which water is released from the dam is near the bottom (around 155 feet), and it is this stored-up supply of winter-chilled cold water that keeps trout alive over summer.

I generally find that the coldness of Canyon Lake will reflect the average temperature for the coldest month of the year. The last couple of years we have had winters about 3 degrees warmer than normal, and the coldest lake temperatures were around 56 degrees. This year could bring a colder than normal winter. November was the seventh-coldest on record, and today we are under a winter storm warning. It is conceivable that water temperatures will be several degrees colder than the last few years. The impact would be like turning up the air conditioning for us: colder water will benefit the trout further downstream from the dam, adding to the numbers surviving the summer.

The Corps has agreed to a deviation in the operating procedures of Canyon Dam to allow the bottom foot of the flood control pool to be used as a "recreational pool." The deviation period will be from mid April to mid September. As long as Canyon Lake is in the flood pool, flows released from the dam will be higher than the normal minimum, but not so high as to dump the water in a short amount of time. There is a potential for increased flows for weeks or even months if we get strategically placed rainfall. The disappointment is that everyone was expecting a two-feet deviation, which doubles the amount of water for enhanced flow. We will work with the Corps and TP&WD to see if more water can be included in the recreational pool.

Our action contesting the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority water right application is still pending at the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission. GRTU Officers reached a tentative agreement with GBRA that would increase summertime stream flows most years when there is no drought.

It is a compromise that would result in a significant improvement in the trout fishery to carry-over from year to year and grow trophy trout. I have been waiting with great expectation and anticipation to announce the signing of the contract, but we have encountered a significant and unexpected obstacle. GBRA wanted Comal County Commissioner's Court to ratify the agreement, but they have refused to do so! I am not sure where it leaves the agreement, but I cannot understand why Comal County Commissioners want to turn their backs on enhancements to recreation and sport fishing that could add millions of dollars to the local economy! We urge GBRA to consider all means to get the tentative agreement signed.

In the meantime, the Guadalupe Legal Defense Fund is open for business and is accepting donations. We are still contesting GBRA's water right application at TNRCC and will do so until a contract is signed. Until the matter is settled, we need more donations!

In the next weeks or months, we may call upon our members to write letters or send e-mails to provide critical support of the Guadalupe. IF the call should go out, a good response could mean the difference between success and failure. We are depending on your outstanding support. Thanks

David Schroeder, GRTU Flow Committee