Thornberry Amendment to Water Bill Delays Destruction of Lake Kemp Cabins
Congress has passed the “Water Resources Development Act of 2016.
H.R. 5303 includes an amendment introduced by Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) that will prevent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from forcing the City of Wichita Falls to destroy nearly 150 Lake Kemp cabins before 2025.
The issue stems from an agreement in the 1960s between the Corps, Wichita Falls, and other stakeholders when the Lake Kemp dam and spillway was reconstructed. That agreement required the city to demolish all of the privately owned cabins at Lake Kemp that were below 1,159-feet mean sea level (MSL) out of concern that they might flood.
The agreement has been modified to prevent the demolition several times, most recently in 2007 when it was extended through January 1, 2020. “This five-year extension protects the rights of the cabin owners and the private property rights of the current owner of the Waggoner Estate, while allowing the city and those stakeholders more time to resolve this issue,” Thornberry said.
As of 2016, none of the cabins at the lake below the 1,159 foot MSL have flooded. The closest Lake Kemp has come to that number was 1,150 feet MSL in August of 1995. Lake Kemp functions as a recreational and flood control facility that also supplies municipal water.
The land surrounding Lake Kemp is part of the historic privately owned Waggoner Estate Ranch that was purchased by billionaire L.A. Rams owner Stan Kroenke earlier this year. Residents at Lake Diversion, also surrounded by Waggoner Estate land, we told in August they had until January 2017 to get off the land. Any remaining structures will be destroyed by Kroenke, who wants to return the property to it's natural state.