ROCKSPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) — Fiery testimony came from Hill Country residents at a public comment meeting held Thursday night by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, or TCEQ, as the organization decides the fate of a proposed private dam on a crucial Lake Travis tributary.

Houston-based oil executive Gregory Garland applied to build the dam in 2018 for ‘recreational’ purposes. Garland was at the meeting Thursday night.

Garland said the proposed private reservoir near the headwaters of the only river currently providing water flow into the Highland Lakes is to increase water capacity for wildlife and fish. It would not be used for commercial purposes, Garland said, and he will not use motorized watercraft on it.

Garland, flanked by his attorney, was on stage alongside TCEQ staff in a large auditorium Friday to answer public comment from a long line of concerned residents. There were an estimated 187 people in attendance. No one spoke in favor of the proposed dam during public comment.

A second public meeting is expected to be held at a later date. The details of the meeting have not yet been finalized. 

“As a person who lives in a little house, on a little lot, in the City of Llano, would I be qualified to object?” Paula Graham, a Llano resident, asked the panel.

“It depends on what interests you have,” said Cole Malley, an attorney with TCEQ.

“I drink water,” Graham replied, prompting applause from the audience.

The TCEQ said a second public meeting will be held, but a date and location have not yet been decided. Hill Country residents and State Representative Andrew Murr are urging the TCEQ to hold a meeting closer to Llano or the Highland Lakes — more highly-populated areas that also depend on the Llano River for water.

“At this time, there is not a timeframe established for the TCEQ to decide on this application,” the TCEQ told KXAN Friday.