LCRA, PEC award $19,241 grant for new rescue equipment

New Bulverde Spring Branch water rescue team will respond to calls in popular swimming, boating areas

The following story is courtesy of Lower Colorado River Authority.

A grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Pedernales Electric Cooperative will help Bulverde Spring Branch Emergency Services purchase equipment to outfit a team of specialists in water rescues.

The $19,241 Community Development Partnership Program grant, along with $11,700 in matching funds, will provide the new team with the diver gear and training it needs to create a robust water rescue program to respond to calls in, on or around the water, and hopefully save lives.

Currently, the closest specialized water response team that could respond to the area is more than 30 minutes away in New Braunfels or San Marcos, and preparation time would add another 15 minutes to those responses, said Bulverde Spring Branch ES Chief Mark Southwell. That response time falls outside the window of survival for drownings.

That’s a major concern in a growing area where visitors flock to fish, swim and boat on the Guadalupe River, which Southwell said alternates between tranquil water and roaring rapids.

“We really have had quite a few events where we were limited in how we could respond,” Southwell said. “We had one on the river recently where we had to use masks and snorkels from bystanders to put people in the water. Our time underwater with that is very limited.”

With the new equipment, Southwell said, “Rescue is an option versus recovery.”

Southwell said the department’s first responders have already started training so the team can respond to water-related calls as soon as possible. He added that the water response specialists also will assist departments in Blanco, Bexar and Kendall counties as part of their mutual aid agreements.

The community grant is one of 32 grants awarded recently through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which helps volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders and nonprofit organizations fund capital improvement projects in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water and transmission service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves. Pedernales Electric Cooperative is one of LCRA’s wholesale electric customers and is a partner in the grant program.

Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in January. More information is available at

About LCRA

The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; providing a clean, reliable water supply; and offering outdoor adventures at more than 40 parks along the Colorado River from the Texas Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to fulfilling our mission to enhance the quality of life of the Texans we serve through water stewardship, energy and community service. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934 and receives no state appropriations. For more information, visit

About PEC

Founded in 1938 by then-Congressman Lyndon B. Johnson, Pedernales Electric Cooperative Inc. is a member-owned electric cooperative serving more than 363,000 accounts across Central Texas. An industry-recognized leader providing outstanding member service and reliable electricity, PEC conducts its business via a transparent and democratic process and highly encourages member participation.