Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

November 1, 2011

The inconvenient truth

Rick Moscicki
Jacksonville Daily Progress

Lake Jacksonville — The Oct. 16 front-page article “Tensions rise over dam” (Buckner Dam on Lake Jacksonville) was quite educational.  But some clarification is needed on a few points.   

1.      Only a month ago, a city official stated in the newspaper “all necessary problems had been addressed.”  Yet in the latest story, city officials say “some of the repairs would be very costly.”  That is a clear admission that needed repair is being ignored.

2.      The TCEQ spokesperson stated “The city is required to have a maintenance plan that should include a plan for removing trees on a schedule” and also, “we have not made them aware of the required plan.”  Then, in the same paragraph, “We told them that they should have such a plan, but not that it was required.”  Government doublespeak is not helpful.  Does the city have a plan?  

3.      In a letter dated March 22, 2005 from Mo Raissi to the TCEQ, it was stated, among other things, that all trees would be cleared from the emergency spillway.  This was not done.  Go see for yourself.  Mr. Raissi goes on to say “Properly maintaining Buckner Dam is one of the City of Jacksonville’s main objectives, your agencies (sic) guidelines and recommendations will be followed to ensure safety of the dam.”  We are still waiting for him to live up to his words.

4.      In a letter dated May 3, 2005 from the TCEQ to the city, it states, “If the pool is not lowered for a safety inspection, pipe leaks and seepage (if they exist) in the outlet area will progress undetected resulting in conditions that could lead to more serious dam safety problems and potential dam failure.”  And later “The spillway pipe is one of the most critical structures associated with a dam and the need to insure the physical integrity and surrounding conditions of this pipe can not be overemphasized.”  These warnings conflict with the statements of the TCEQ spokesperson.  Why?  

5.      Mr. Cole said, “the city has monitored the seepage at the dam, but no changes have been noted.”  Who is performing the monitoring?  Are they qualified?  Would the city care to share that documentation, and explain how they can monitor leaks in a flooded conduit?   

6.      Mr. Cole also said he was not aware of a large erosion gully on the backside of the dam.   If he read the 2006 report (bullet #6), inspected the dam, and monitored seepage, why is he not aware of a gully large enough to swallow a fleet of Volkswagens?

Things could be a lot less contentious if city officials would make an effort to cooperate with those whose sole agenda is to preserve the quality of Lake Jacksonville.  That makes more sense than the current practice of denial, excuses, and intimidation.  Save the threats of arrest and prosecution for criminals, not concerned citizens.  Aren’t the dam and lake worthy of the city’s more productive efforts?

Rick Moscicki

Lake Jacksonville