AUSTIN (KXAN) — Amid public pressure, a landowner on the South Llano River has withdrawn their plans to build a controversial dam that would impede water from flowing into the Highland Lakes.

Gregory Garland, former CEO of Phillips 66, first applied with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to build the private dam in 2018 under Waterstone Creek, LLC. The proposed dam would impound 3.9 million gallons of water — the equivalent of covering an entire football field with 9-foot-deep water — and, according to Garland, would be used for recreation.

Since KXAN’s August investigation into this proposed dam and our subsequent investigation into a different dam built illegally in Mason County, public pressure has mounted against homeowners impeding water flow into the Highland Lakes. A TCEQ public comment meeting held in August drew an estimated 187 people in attendance, none of whom spoke in favor of the dam.

Dr. Jordan Furnans, hydrologist with water consulting firm LRE Water, estimated from satellite images that there are likely thousands of privately built dams in the Texas Hill Country, blocking 8-15% of normal water recharge from reaching the Highland Lakes.

TCEQ confirmed to KXAN that in a letter dated Oct. 18, 2023, the representative for Waterstone Creek, LLC submitted a formal request to withdraw Application No. 13524 for the proposed dam on the South Llano River.

KXAN will continue to follow developments on the illegally built private dam on the James River in Mason County.