$24 Million Plan Announced To Replace Lake Dunlap's Failed Spill Gate | Texas Public Radio

$24 Million Plan Announced To Replace Lake Dunlap's Failed Spill Gate

Oct 9, 2019

Lake Dunlap property owners filled an exhibit hall at the New Braunfels Convention Center to hear details of a $24 million plan to replace a failed spill gate that led to the lake’s draining in May.

Most of the 600 chairs set out for the meeting were filled.

The Guadalupe Blanco-River Authority and the lake property owners represented by the Preserve Lake Dunlap Association have reached a cost sharing agreement on repairs. The GBRA will raise money for the repairs through bonds, make the repairs and use gross revenue from the newly reconstructed dam’s hydroelectric production to help pay for the costs.

Association board member Dr. Larry Johnson said good progress has been made to ask for the creation of a water control improvement district on the May 2 ballot. The district would tax lake property owners to raise revenue to pay for repairs, too.

Members of the Lake Dunlap community came out for a meeting on a plan to repair damage after a spill gate failure.
Credit Brian Kirkpatrick | Texas Public Radio

The GBRA said it loses money on its combined six hydroelectric dams because of the high cost of upkeep. However, Johnson said the Lake Dunlap dam — when set aside from the rest — has always been a money maker.

“Together they lose money, but Lake Dunlap makes a profit and a nice profit, and so we had the idea that, 'What if we use the dam itself to pay the bill?'” he said.

Johnson said it will take 30 years to pay off the repairs from the hydroelectric revenue and from revenue generated by the water control improvement district.  

He said the formula for how much will come from each funding source is still being worked out, including what the property tax rate would be, but it should become clear by the time a town hall meeting of lake property owners is held in March.  Johnson also said there might be adjustments along the way because river flows vary with the weather and so does revenue from hydroelectric production.

If the water district creation question is allowed on the May ballot and it passes, weather permitting, construction could begin as early as the summer of 2020, according to association President J. Harmon.

The GBRA is already working with an engineer firm to design the replacement spill gate at Lake Dunlap, Harmon said.

Johnson said the new spill gate will also have something the failed spill gate didn’t have: stop logs.

“And if we had them on Lake Dunlap it would still have water in it,” Johnson said.  “Essentially it’s a way to put a temporary dam in front of the dam so that you could safely work on it, easily take it out.”

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