Lake Dunlap homeowners face numerous problems, uncertain future after spill gate failure

Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority says lake won't be back to normal for years

By Garrett Brnger - Reporter

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas - Leo York is just six weeks away from what he thought would be a relaxing, lakeside retirement. Since yesterday, however, his home on Lake Dunlap isn't exactly lakeside.

A spill gate at Dunlap Dam failed Tuesday morning, sending a wave of water cascading downstream and dramatically lowering the level of the lake upstream. A spokeswoman for the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority said it is too soon to say what will happen with the damaged spill gate or, therefore, how long the lake will stay low.

The spokeswoman did confirm that, whatever happens, it will take years.

Meanwhile, homeowners like York are finding themselves high and dry, facing numerous problems without clear solutions.

"There's definitely going to be some changes," Roy said as he stood on his dock.

His boat and others now hang several yards in the air with no easy way to remove them. Plus, the shoreline bulkhead that helped keep their yards from spilling into the lake aren't being kept in place by the water anymore.

Watch exact moment of partial dam failure at Lake Dunlap

York said he has seen several bulkheads starting to collapse.

"Hopefully, ours will stay intact," he said.

J. Harmon, president of the Preserve Lake Dunlap Association, said property values went down with the water, too.

"Because no longer are we lakefront," Harmon said. "Now, we're 'river accessible.' But you can't boat in that 'cause it's too shallow."

It is unclear how much property tax relief the homeowners may be able to get following the disappearance of their lake. York said he submitted a notice of protest of his property appraisal on Wednesday, which is generally the last day to do so for 2019.

When KSAT asked what the impact on property values would be due to the spill gate failure, however, Jamie Osborne, chief appraiser of the Guadalupe Appraisal District, wrote back the following in an email:

"Section 23.01 of the Texas Tax Code requires appraisal districts to appraise property 'at its market value as of January 1.'  For the January 1, 2020 appraisal date, the property values will be based on confirmed market activity in this area.  The current Notices of Appraised Value that have recently been mailed are related to the January 1, 2019 appraisal date."

Still, life goes on. York said he and his wife won't be altering their retirement plans over this.

"We're just going to make lemonade out of lemons," York said.

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