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Bridge, boats and docks: Kingsland residents worry flooding debris could hurt boaters

After floodwaters ripped through the Hill Country and washed away the FM 2900 bridge in Kingsland, some of the debris still litters the lakes.

KINGSLAND, Texas — Charlotte Dilworth watched the water rise last fall during the October floods that ripped through the Hill Country. She said the damage that remains still amazes her. 

"We call it, our piece of property right now, our sand island," she said, as she pointed out all the sand that washed up after the flood.

Dilworth said she's worried for people's safety who may be boating on the lake in the coming weeks. 

"Kingsland depends on the guests, the tourists that come into the area," she said. "And who's responsible if someone's kid is on a jet ski, hits a piece of rebar and doesn't know it?"

Who is responsible? That question has been asked by people who live and work along the water. 

Rhonda Nesrsta said she sees the hazards all the time. 

"Concrete and rebar sticking up all over the place," Nesrsta said, explaining some of the debris is from the remains of the old bridge. "I can tell you that hundreds of boats come by here in the spring and summer, mostly pulling skiers and tubers, so when a little kid falls, or the tube flops over and they land on that, I don't know, it's going to be awful. It's a tragedy waiting to happen, and it's all over the lake."

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KVUE reached out to TCEQ and LCRA for answers. 

The LCRA released a list of actions they plan on implementing to enhance public safety on Lake LBJ, including removing abandoned docks from the lake and marking river channels with solar-powered lights to guide boaters at night.

TCEQ said in a statement: 

"The TCEQ gets involved when the obstruction either causes, or threatens to cause, structural damage to a bridge, dam or roadway, as opposed to interfering with recreational uses."

The LCRA said in a statement:

"Individual property owners are responsible for removing debris on their private property. As you know, at the end of October 2018, LCRA donated $100,000 each to Burnet and Llano counties to assist in flood cleanup and recovery. Each commissioners court decided how the money was spent.

LCRA is responsible for identifying and marking hazards in the main channel of the river or lake.

The Texas Legislature is currently in session and is considering legislation (and required funding) to address the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Harvey and flooding. It is essential to note that debris removal from navigable rivers and streams is a statewide issue and not limited to the Highland Lakes portion of the Colorado River.

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LCRA continually seeks to identify and mark hazards to navigation in the main channel of the Highland Lakes portion of the Colorado River. However, boaters and others should never rely solely on hazard buoys. Each person has a responsibility to look out for themselves and their family members.

No water body is without its risks. That was true before the flood and continues to be true today. No stream, river or lake in Texas is entirely safe or immune from potential hazards. 

The decision to recreate in any portion of the Colorado River, including the Highland Lakes, is one that each person must make upon an assessment of the situation and the use of good judgment and common sense."

Those with LCRA said if people see debris that needs to be marked, to reach out to them at askLCRA@LCRA.org.

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