TX River Protection Group, Local Scientist Sends Letters To SM City Council Concerning Capes Dam Removal

TX River Protection Group, Local Scientist Sends Letters To SM City Council Concerning Capes Dam Removal

“Dr. Hardy’s studies show a result that there is less than 5 percent difference in the effect on Texas Wild Rice and Fountain Darter available habitat for all study variables,” Fairchild said. “This is hardly a result that favors any conclusion about the dam removal question.”

by, Terra Rivers, Managing Editor

 

Over the last year the San Marcos City Council has received several letters on the removal of Cape’s Dam, some for and some against tearing out the dam.

On March 5, the Texas Rivers Protection Association (TRPA) addressed a letter of “Resolution Regarding Cape’s Falls” (Dam) to City Council. 

The letter contained recommendations against the removal of Cape’s Dam and asked the city to reconsider the removal of the dam, which will cut water flow to the Mill Race entirely.

The TRPA board also requested the city complete a full National Environmental Policy Act, Environmental Assessment (NEPA) report if they uphold their decision. The city council has been asked to have this environmental assessment done on Capes Dam many times, and has refused to do so.

  • See more about TRPA and the actual letter below.
               Dr. Jack Fairchild, Ph.D., P.E.

Several months ago, Dr. Jack Fairchild a Martindale resident and former member of the San Marcos River Foundation sent a letter to Dianne Wassenich, the San Marcos River Foundation Program Director and the San Marcos City Council expressing his opposition and concerns on the dam.

Dr. Jack Fairchild has a PH.D. in Engineering-Science and served on the San Marcos River Foundation (SMRF) Board, which included nine years of his tenure as president. Today, he is a member of the Texas River Protection Association (TRPA) and serves as a board member with the Martindale Water Supply Corporation. 

According to Dr. Fairchild’s letter to the city council he wrote, “The SMRF has historically insisted on maintaining public access to the river. If removing the dam would also remove the mill race option, access to the river right channel of the river would be prohibitively hazardous to the general public who are not highly skilled boaters. A very long portage until passing Thompson’s Island to proceed downstream would be required.”

During his time on the SMRF board, Fairchild’s Engineering Science background helped SMRF get the wastewater permit from Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for “urgently needed” improvements to the San Marcos Wastewater Center.

In his letter, Fairchild expressed concerns over the foundation’s decision to remove the dam. Fairchild said the current position in regards to the dam appeared to place a heavy weight on the various studies of Dr. Tom Hardy and cautioned basing the decision on these studies.

“Dr. Hardy’s studies show a result that there is less than 5 percent difference in the effect on Texas Wild Rice and Fountain Darter available habitat for all study variables,” Fairchild said. “This is hardly a result that favors any conclusion about the dam removal question.”

Dr. Fairchild went on to say, “There are no uncertainty analyses in Dr. Hardy’s reports. My experience observing biological scientists in the field suggests that experimental biological data is seldom if ever near 95% accurate (as indicated). Although computations by digital computers are highly precise, the accuracy of the results are a function of the accuracy of the input data (“garbage in, garbage out” is a common comment) and the validity of the software program utilized.”

  • You can read Dr. Fairchild’s letter below.

According to Dr. Hardy, he studied the dam’s impact on the endangered species living in the river and his report concludes a minimal five percent effect on endangered species and Fairchild believes that there is a more important impact the city should consider in its decision.   

The Mill Race and Cape’s Falls (Dam) serves as a recreational destination for Boy Scouts, residents and wounded and disabled veterans.

In Fairchild’s letter he explains that the secondary channel’s current is slower than the main channel of the San Marcos River and provides a safer environment for inexperienced canoers, paddlers, fishing and kayakers.

“In view of the insignificant effect the dam has on endangered species habitat according to Dr. Tom Hardy’s reports, the effect on recreational use clearly becomes the most important effect,” Fairchild said. “If removing the dam would also remove the mill race option, access to the river right channel of the river would be prohibitively hazardous to the general public who are not highly skilled boaters.”

Corridor News reached out to Dr. Fairchild and asked him since his letter to city council and Wassenich, had his beliefs changed, “No, I still believe that tearing out Capes Falls (Dam) would be the wrong thing to do for the river, the endangered species and for recreation.”

Download (PDF)

 

Download (PDF)


According to the TRPA website — The members of the Texas Rivers Protection Association are concerned about the quality of our remaining natural rivers and we invite you to join in our efforts…

Several years ago, a coalition of Texas conservation and recreation groups began to work to protect the diverse natural rivers of Texas. These groups continue to work together to protect our Texas Rivers. The TRPA website http://www.txrivers.org/

During these efforts, Texas rivers have gained a broad and diverse band of supporters. In 1989, the coalition decided the time had arrived to incorporate formally and apply for non-profit, 501(c)4 status. In 2004, a conversion to 501(c)3 tax deductible status was granted. In 2001, TRPA acquired acreage and access easements at historic Hidalgo Falls on the Brazos River near Navasota.  Memberships are available for both groups and individuals. TRPA leadership is made up of pro-river activists from across the state representing landowner coalitions, conservationists, canoe clubs, and fishing associations.

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