Cape’s Dam Sparks Controversy Among Opposing Groups in San Marcos

todayJune 14, 2016 17

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By Clayton Kelley
Assistant News Director

Tensions are running high between residents of San Marcos regarding City Council’s agreement to remove Cape’s Dam. The idea to dismantle Cape’s Dam has been in the works for years and was approved by City Council on March 15. According to the city, the removal will be covered by U.S. Fish and Wildlife, making it free of charge for residents.

Dianne Wassenich, program manager of the San Marcos River Foundation, said the dam has become outdated and now imposes major safety hazards for the natural environment.

Cape's Dam story
Cape’s Dam poses major safety hazards for the natural environment in the San Marcos river. Photo by Holly Henrichsen.

“This dam issue is about what’s best for the river and I think the whole world knows that a free flowing river is a better ecosystem solution than something that is backed up by a dam, which then builds up sediment and makes the area behind it mucky and shallow,” Wassenich said. “That’s the problem.”

Statistics recorded by Texas State’s Meadows Center for Water and the Environment backed this up by saying the sediment buildup from the dam can have life-threatening consequences for aquatic life in the river. Ty Stonecipher, water resource senior, spoke out at Tuesday’s City Council meeting commending the decision to remove Cape’s Dam, but he was surprised to see a number of people who were on the opposite side.

“There was about 120 people there for the opposition side and I really hope that these people don’t sway the City Council decision, even though it has been made,” Stonecipher said. “A lot of them aren’t educated about the facts of the dam removal.”

He said a big part of the reason people are against the dam removal process is because it can put a damper on recreational use. The defense of the opposition side is that the dam is one of the few access spots for Americans with disabilities.

“If the people organizing this had actually cared about ADA access, they would be there every City Council meeting, pestering the City Council to improve ADA access,” Stonecipher said. “Instead of just parading disabled veterans around whenever their cause was in danger.”

The City of San Marcos is currently in the permitting process for this decision. Stonecipher said if this finalized decision is changed, he will continue to fight tooth and nail and get this dam removed.

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