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High-Risk Dams On Guadalupe River Lakes Threaten Area Residents, Businesses

Brian Kirkpatrick | Texas Public Radio

Ninety-year-old infrastructure that created Guadalupe County's six lakes is in dire need of repair and poses a significant safety risk. Four dams are at a high risk of collapse and two other spill gates have failed already.

Officials have restricted use of the lakes and are considering draining them completely, which would affect residents and businesses nearby.

The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority doesn't have nearly enough in its coffers to fund the necessary repairs. Replacing the dams would take 20 years and cost an estimated $180 million. 

A second spill gate collapse in May turned Lake Dunlap into a desolate muddy water bed and area residents fear it will never be fully restored. At-risk dams also threaten Lake Placid and Lake McQueeney.

More than 25 percent of dams regulated by the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality are in “poor” or “fair” condition, according to a Texas Observerreview of 7,250 dams monitored by the state.

Who's in charge of testing the integrity of dams in Texas? How are they inspected and monitored? What happens in an emergency situation when a dam breaks?

What are other funding solutions to fix this aging infrastructure? What would be the area economic impact of draining the lakes? How concerned should area residents be for their safety?


"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet at @TPRSource. 


*This interview was recorded on Thursday, July 25.

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Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.