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Sand is Shrinking Lake LBJ, But Will Sand Mining Hurt the Hill Country?

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What began in early 2017 as a proposed dredging project has turned into a sand mining firestorm for homeowners on Lake Lyndon B. Johnson. Residents of Sandy Harbor, one such community of homeowners, contacted Kevin Collier of Collier Materials – a company based in Marble Falls which deals in sand and rock for construction projects. Specifically, they were inquiring as to whether he could assist in removing the sand from their area of the lake, which was causing a problem for them. Some of them were unable to get their boats in the water, and they thought his company could assist.

Collier’s company had prior notable projects, such as dredging the Llano reservoirs (a job which was free of charge to the city). From that job, the company refined the sand which was dredged and sold it for use in construction projects. Throughout a number of years, Sandy Harbor residents had lost a majority of their access to the lake due to rising sand amounts – which had practically come to the point of reaching their docks. Unfortunately, Collier was unable to take the job. He stated that the community had no repository for the sand that would be removed, and if it were ever dredged, the sand would necessitate processing prior to being repurposed. That couldn’t feasibly be done unless Sandy Harbor were to have a close-by, small industrial facility. It possessed no such facility. However, the amount of sand to be removed in the process presented an intriguing possibility (since it currently markets for up to $10 per ton). So, he set out a dredging plan for the process, a plan which has raised a huge amount of controversy. Since then, sparks have been flying between local ranchers and the owners of lake houses, among other groups.

Sand is Shrinking Lake LBJ, But Will Sand Mining Hurt the Hill Country?
Photo: Facebook/Becca Smylie Manning

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