SAN ANTONIO – The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority announced Thursday that Lake Gonzales, Meadow Lake, Lake Placid and Lake McQueeney will all be drained amid concerns about aging dams.
Lake Gonzales will be the first to start dewatering Sept. 16, and the process will continue upstream to Meadow Lake, then Lake Placid and end with Lake McQueeney.
“Safety is our top priority. We understand this is an unpopular decision, but one that we feel is unavoidable given the dangers associated with these dams,” said GBRA General Manager and CEO Kevin Patteson. “GBRA is committed to working closely with the lake associations and the community to mitigate the impact of this difficult, but necessary decision.”
Each lake is expected to take approximately three days to drain, meaning all the lakes should be dewatered by the end of September.
The hydroelectric dams are more than 90 years old, according to a news release from GBRA.
A partial dam failure at Lake Dunlap in May was caught on video and showed water rushing out of the lake at 11,000 cubic feet per second.
GBRA said in a news release that it is contacting property owners who are expected to be impacted by the draining of the lakes.
To minimize the risks associated with the aging dams, GBRA posted signage near buoys and around dams in addition to installing cameras and sirens to help warn people of the hazardous aging dams.
According to GBRA, the "monitoring systems continue to capture people within the restricted areas close to – and in some instances on top of – the dams, intensifying public safety concerns." Video of this can be seen above.
GBRA is working with the lake associations that are part of Guadlupe Valley Lakes, in addition to affected residents and county officials to determine the best course of action for identifying, funding and completing the necessary replacement of the dams, a news release said.
Updates regarding the lake draining process and subsequent actions can be found on the Guadalupe Valley Lakes website.