As part of its reservoir and irrigation improvement program, BMA has installed more than 33,420 feet of piping so
far this year. An additional 16,065 feet are scheduled to be in place by year-end. While they may not see eye to eye on much, BMA and SML agree that pipes are far more efficient than exposed canals, which lose water to evaporation.
From 2002-2017, the water district said it spent $17,136,122 on capital improvements in and around the lake. As for those “dam valves,” Tapp said the Medina Lake gates were closed from Aug. 7, 2017 to May 29, 2018. During that time, water storage capacity dropped 54,100 acre-feet.
“That is an average of about 183 acre-feet per day while Medina valves were closed,” Tapp noted. SML suspects that open valves are exacerbating the lake’s water loss.
“The main problem with BMA is that they do not measure the water released from Medina Lake. They only measure what is released from [the smaller] Diversion Lake into the irrigation canals, which of course is meaningless as long as the gates in Medina Dam remain open,” Eilert-Olsen wrote in an e-mail.
Tapp responded with a detailed explanation: “The Medina Reservoir is part of our irrigation reservoir system. This system transports irrigation water to a release point where the water is measured as it goes into the canal system. This measurement is then reported to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and is the only required measurement that BMA must report.
We follow TCEQ regulations on measuring and reporting all water taken and used under our permit for allotted water.” Tapp went on to say: ”It is unfortunate that SML is unable to grasp this two-reservoir system with proper metering of legal use of water under our permit. SML has been supplied this information in an open records request.”
Tapp suggested that BMA’s critics look northward. “It is our hope that SML would be concerned about the damming of tributaries in the recharge basin, and the effects this has on the inflow into the Medina Reservoir. SML has been myopic and refuses to look into the Medina River Watershed and the damming of the relatively small recharge basin of 634 square miles,” Tapp said.
Eilert-Olsen credits the current BMA board with being more responsive in recent months, but his group isn’t convinced that people are getting the full story about conditions at the lake. “We urge the public to contact their local and state representatives to make sure BMA is forced to have policies in place to prevent draining Medina Lake,” SML said in a statement last month.
Tapp encourages residents to check the agency’s website – bmawater.org — for updates on projects, status of the canal system and general information.