GBRA to consider emptying four more lakes over safety concerns

McQueeney, Placid, Gonzales and Meadow could be emptied following dam failures

By Garrett Brnger - Reporter, Adam B. Higgins - Photojournalist

Two months after a dam failure led to the draining of Lake Dunlap, the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority will consider purposely draining four more lakes due to safety concerns.

GBRA management will brief the board of directors at its monthly meeting Wednesday on the option of dewatering Lake McQueeney, Lake Placid, Meadow Lake and Lake Gonzales, confirmed Jonathan Stinson, deputy general manager of GBRA.

All four lakes along the Guadalupe River are held back by aging dams like the ones that failed at Lake Dunlap in May and Lake Wood in 2016.

Dewatering could lower the water levels by up to 12 feet.

Stinson said GBRA staff, including himself, will brief the board in public and in executive session on the concerns and issues related to the spill gates and lakes that are still in service. Dewatering the lakes, he said, would be "the main option" to deal with the concerns over public safety.

"It's like, you know, 'What tools do we have at our use to mitigate that risk?'" Stinson said. "And unfortunately, the only one really identified is you take that wall of water away. And, you know, then that risk doesn't exist anymore."

If the GBRA goes forward with draining the lakes, it would happen "sooner rather than later," Stinson said.

Stinson said the GBRA expects plenty of public participation at its meeting. One group, Friends of Lake McQueeney, encouraged its Facebook followers to attend the meeting "to voice your opinions."

The group's president, Bob Spalten, said people are not happy with the possibility of losing their lake. Though the prospect doesn't excite him either, especially when he thinks of the economic impact, Spalten sees the logic behind it.

"If they need to lower the lakes to inspect them to make sure that it doesn't wreck havoc, then I think that we need to do that. It's just unfortunate of the timing," he said.

The GBRA board of directors will meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the GBRA William E. West, Jr., Annex Building at 905 Nolan St. in Seguin.

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