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GBRA Board Hears Recommendation On Failed Spillgate

Still from GBRA video of large tree that stuck in spillgate, forcing it down and draining Lake Gonzales by 12 feet.

It's been two weeks since a spillgate failed on Lake Gonzales, 75 miles east of San Antonio, draining the waterway by 12 feet.

A large tree got stuck in the nearly century-old spillgate on Aug. 3, forcing it down.

Charlie Hickman, the executive manager of engineering at the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority, recommended a solution to his board on Tuesday.

"The recommendation we have still for Lake Gonzales is that we leave the gate in its current condition and we pursue, as we have done with the other hydroelectric lakes, a funding solution that will allow for a comprehensive repair of the spillgate," Hickman said

Lake resident Kent Bollich told Texas Public Radio earlier this month that the nearest docks in the lake are many feet from the water's edge.

"There is no docks or pier systems that are near the water," he said. "The water edge is about roughly 50 feet from any exposed docks right now."

He said boats were left sitting in mud, and wildlife, like clams and fish, are threatened. The threatened species also include the tiny Cagle's map turtle, native to the Guadalupe, San Antonio and San Marcos rivers.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reports the lake, 12 miles west of Gonzales on Highway 90A, covers 696 acres.

Lake Gonzales.png
Aerial shot of Lake Gonzales spillgates before one failed, dropping the lake level

It’s home to largemouth bass, white crappie, blue, channel, flathead catfish and sun fish.

The dam has impounded water on the Guadalupe River since 1931, but the GBRA did not take over management of the lake until the 1960s.

Aging spillgates on two other GBRA lake dams on the Guadalupe River, at Dunlap and Wood, collapsed in recent years, draining those lakes, too.

It also prompted the GBRA to lower water levels on its other lakes out of fears old spillgates on them would collapse too, threatening downstream property and lives.

The GBRA set up safety zones around all of its spillgates to warn water recreationists to keep a safe distance away.

Construction has begun on a new dam at Lake Dunlap.

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Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian