As part of our expanded effort to keep the community informed, we want to provide clarifications and additional information in response to requests and offers we have received from some of our partners.
We appreciate the continued partnership of our state, county and city officials as we all work together to ensure the sustainability of the Guadalupe Valley Lakes for generations to come. The necessary replacement of these spillgates will be a collective effort and we continue to work in collaboration with all stakeholders to identify funding for a long-term solution.
Proposed “No-Use” Ordinance:
Per Texas Parks and Wildlife Code Section 31.091, authority for the enactment of boating regulations is reserved to the state. Any ordinance prohibiting activity on the Guadalupe Valley Lakes would have to be granted by the State of Texas.
Further, an ordinance prohibiting activity on the Guadalupe Valley Lakes fails to address the riverine areas below the hydro dams where the public recreates and fails to address issues surrounding the monitoring and enforcement of such a mandate. GBRA works closely with local law enforcement agencies – including county sheriff departments and game wardens – to enforce the restricted areas around the dams.
Attempting to keep people off of the lakes does not diminish the inevitability of another spillgate failure, nor does it completely mitigate the risks that can result from such a failure.
Additional Engineering Assessments of Dams at Lake Gonzales, Meadow Lake, Lake Placid and Lake McQueeney
The decision to dewater the lakes resulted from a thorough due diligence effort that took place over the course of three years and included two third-party engineering evaluations. While we have conducted assessments and inspections on the remaining dams to the extent possible, there are several factors that limit the opportunity of further investigation.
The dams and spillgates forming the Guadalupe Valley Lakes do not have dewatering mechanisms that allow inspection of the spillgates while maintaining water in the lakes. Additional inspection and evaluation of the remaining dams would not prevent the dewatering of the lakes – it would require it.
Further, many of the key components that would need to be evaluated are located behind the spillgates. Based on visual inspections of the remaining spillgates and the deterioration of structural steel components observed in the spillgates at Lake Wood and Lake Dunlap – the remaining spillgates lack the structural integrity necessary for GBRA to allow anyone to go inside or behind the spillgates to complete these inspections.
Third-party engineering firm Black & Veatch’s recommendation that the dams be taken out of operation was based on the destructive analysis of a hinge assembly from one of the spillgates at Lake Dunlap. A destructive analysis requires complete removal of the hinge assembly from the dam’s concrete substructure or disassembly of the spillgate. Performing these activities on the remaining spillgates will render the dams inoperable.
Even the least invasive option – a nondestructive inspection (NDI) – would not only require the lakes to be dewatered and the spillgate components to be completely dried, but the attaching of the necessary electrodes will require individuals to take the risk of going inside the spillgates that show significant signs of deterioration. These activities cannot be performed from outside the gate.
Safety has and will continue to be GBRA’s top priority due to the fact that we have had two dam failures in a span of three years and other failures are imminent. We know this is a difficult decision to accept, but one that we feel is unavoidable due to the hazards posed by these dams. We understand how this impacts the surrounding communities and continue to work with our elected officials and community partners to mitigate the impacts of this decision as we collectively determine the best path forward.