Lake Dunlap to be refilled 4 years after partial dam failure

Watch exact moment of partial dam failure at Lake Dunlap

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – Lake Dunlap is expected to be refilled nearly four years after a partial dam failure.

The Lake Dunlap Water Control & Improvement District (WCID) said the lake will be refilled starting around 3 p.m. Thursday.

“Initial refilling operations will commence by raising two of the three gates up 1-ft in elevation and slowly raising the remaining gate as the lake refills. Due to low flow conditions upstream, lake levels will rise very slowly and it is anticipated to take more than two months for the lake to be fully re-filled,” Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority officials told the Lake Dunlap WCID.

The video at the top of this article shows the exact moment a spillgate collapsed on May 14, 2019. The video shows the Dunlap Dam spillgate fail at approximately 7:49 a.m.

Lake Dunlap had dropped nearly 7 feet by the following afternoon after water rushed out of the lake at 11,000 cubic feet per second, according to officials with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority.

A few months after the spill gate failure in 2019, GBRA announced that Lake Gonzales, Meadow Lake, Lake Placid and Lake McQueeney would all be drained amid concerns about aging dams.

At the time, GBRA General Manager and CEO Kevin Patteson said, “we understand this is an unpopular decision, but one that we feel is unavoidable given the dangers associated with these dams.”

However, the dewatering of the lakes was put on hold after GBRA officials and local residents reached an agreement that allowed GBRA to maintain operating levels on each lake until work began on the spill gate replacement and repairs on that lake’s dam.

Construction crews have been able to complete a temporary bridge upstream of the dam in the main river channel, which is being used for construction access.

According to Zachry Construction, updates to the dam included a 15-foot widening of the existing dam structure to include new gates and a new overhead gantry crane for future dam maintenance.

Additional updates included a 220-foot wide emergency spillway east of the dam and new concrete and rock riprap armoring on both sides of the dam.

The contract amount for Zachry Contruction was $35 million.

Guadalupe Valley Lakes reported that construction to replace the dams at Lake McQueeney and Lake Placid is underway and the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority issued the formal notice to proceed on June 19.

“The estimated timeline for completion is 22 months for Lake Placid and 24 months for Lake McQueeney, pending unforeseen weather delays,” Guadalupe Valley Lakes officials said.

About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.