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New Report Frees Up Guadalupe Valley Lakes For Limited Recreation

Portions of Guadalupe Valley lakes reopened today following the release of a report on unsafe zones near aging dam spill gates. 

The report by a panel of engineers keeps existing unsafe zones in place and expanded others because of spill gates the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority believes could fail at any time.

A map of the unsafe zones can be seen atgvlakes.com. River authority General Manager Kevin Patteson said the report’s release freed up some lake areas for water recreation immediately.

“If it’s a safe zone without restrictions. You can do normal activities on the lake in compliance with the laws of the state,” he said.

The panel said the unsafe zones were created based on the criteria of how long it would take to reach shore from the center of each lake if a spill gate were to fail. Spill gates on two other lakes have already failed, but no injuries or deaths were reported.

Lake Placid resident Wendy Salazar said that under the unsafe zones released, no one can enter the water from her property,

“We cannot get in the water, we cannot tube, we cannot be on kayaks,” she said. “We don’t have a boat.  We have 60 feet of Guadalupe River frontage that we paid for, and we can’t access the river.”

Recreation on Lakes McQueeney, Placid, Gonzales and Meadow Lake was banned last month while the dams that created those lakes were inspected.

The panel also recommended Guadalupe Valley lake residents be allowed to enter unsafe zones by permit only, and with a flotation device.

The Guadalupe Blanco River Authority has said nowhere on the water can be deemed 100% safe.

The panel has asked for another month to identify unsafe zones on Lake Gonzales.

Flood gates on Lake Wood and Dunlap have already failed, but a plan is in place that could see construction begin on a replacement at Dunlap as early as next summer.

On Wednesday, a GBRA staffer reported the design of a new Lake Dunlap flood gate should be completed by March 2020. Residents hope installation will start next summer.

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