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Hello, 330 cfs — Welcome, Tubers

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Hello, 330 cfs — Welcome, Tubers

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Tubing the Horseshoe on the lower Guadalupe River. Stock image by local photographer Mark Robinson of MJR Photography, mjrphotog.com.

Update: At 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 24, these were the river rates:

  • Guadalupe River @ Spring Branch (Upper): 483 cfs
  • Guadalupe River @ Sattler (Lower): 367 cfs
  • Guadalupe River @ New Braunfels: 452 cfs

Developing story:

Thursday, May 23: This just in from Water Oriented Recreation District of Comal County: “The Corps of Engineers will begin making gate changes to reduce river flows at noon today. By 3:30 pm, river flows at Canyon Dam will be 330 cubic feet per second. This release will be maintained through the Memorial Day weekend. On Tuesday, May 28, the Corps will increase releases. At this time, it is not known what the increased release will be.”

This is an excellent flow for recreation purposes, but as always please be water aware and safe at all times.”

Wednesday evening May 22: Comal County Commissioner Pct. 4 Jen Crownover announced on her Facebook page Wednesday night that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Guadalupe-Blanco River Authoritiy will start reducing river flows on Thursday and continue reductions on Friday “to a near perfect rereational level for the weekend. If you haven’t made plans to go tubing, you should!

Wednesday:

Canyon Lake businesses and potentially thousands of visitors are waiting with bated breath to see if U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and/or Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) plan to do something about the high release rates from Canyon Dam, which make tubing on the Guadalupe River virtually impossible over the Memorial Day weekend.

As of 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday, flows on the Guadalupe River at Sattler were 1,730 cfs. This morning, the rate was 1,670 cfs. Tubing is not recommended between 1,000 – 3,000 cfs.

Spokespersons with Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and Water Oriented Recreation District of Comal County (WORDCC) say an announcement could be made soon.

“This is a coordination between GBRA and our Water Management Section,” explained Javier Perez Ortiz, Canyon Lake park manager, who works for USACE. “Our Water Management Section professional staff take into consideration many factors addressed in our water management plan. Ultimately they recommend the appropriate water discharges. We will keep the public informed about the status of Canyon Lake water releases.”

Canyon Lake is currently one foot about “flood pool” at 909.98 feet.

Clayton Church, Public Affairs specialist with USACE’s Fort Worth District, which oversees Canyon Lake, said the Corps operates Canyon Lake within the parameters of the water-control manual.

“Current elevation is 910 with a release of 1,582 to evacuate water from the flood pool and regain capacity,” he wrote in an email to MyCanyonLake.com. He said an announcement will probably come from GBRA or WORD.

According to WORD’s website, USACE controls the outflow of Canyon Lake when the reservoir exceeds 909 feet. Changes to releases depend on the response to rainfall and other factors.

What Determines the Minimum Flow on the Guadalupe?

While flow rates may seem a mystery to many, they’re actually spelled out on WORD’s website. Click here for more information.

Key points:

  • When Canyon Reservoir is below 909 msl (feet), GBRA releases flows according to senior downstream-water-rights holders only.
  • When Canyon Reservoir exceeds 909 msl (feet), the lake is considered a flood-control reservoir with a holding capacity designed to catch flood waters before they do damages downstream. This means lake levels will fluctuate year round.
  • When Canyon Reservoir is at 909 msl (feet) GBRA typically matches the inflow to Canyon Lake. Factors affecting this are GBRA’s contract with Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited; Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) requirement governing the GBRA-operated hydro-electric plant at the base of Canyon Dam; TCEQ’s mandated minimum flows, which are contingent on the ‘Base Storage Level’ of Canyon Reservoir; GBRA-Comal County contract for recreational flow; and Texas water law requirements.

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