State Representative fights for funding assistance for area lakes amid dam failures

Cyrier says the hydro electric power the embankments were designed to produce 90 years ago, isn’t generating the amount of money needed to keep up with repairs

State leaders say they are aware of the problems and working to find a solution.

There are six dams in the Guadalupe Valley Lakes system, some of them have failed or are failing, and all of them needed to be replaced more than a decade ago.

Texas State District 17 Representative John P. Cyrier says he’s been fighting for a funding solution for the maintenance and repairs of the six dams.

“The cost to do these repairs, as we knew back in 2019, when we really started digging into this and 18 and then going into 19 after the Dunlap dam failure, you know, we’ve heard ranges from $9 million to all the way up to over $50 million per dam,” said Cyrier.

Cyrier says the hydroelectric power the embankments were designed to produce 90 years ago, isn’t generating the amount of money needed to keep up with repairs today.

“So really the purpose of the lake is, as we described the natural beauty, the recreational, the economic benefits, and the quality of life at this point,” said Cyrier.

The Guadalupe Blanco River Authority, which operates the lakes and dams says repairs have started on Lake Dunlap, but they can’t perform the needed replacement of the spill gates on Lake Gonzales, which experienced a spill-gate failure in August, without state or federal funding assistance.

“We worked quite hard to get legislation passed for part of the Appropriations Pass to help repair not only Lake Wood but also the other dams and to make sure that these wouldn’t fail in the future. We were able to pass that appropriations bill in the House but was unable to get it passed in the Texas Senate in 2019,” said Cyrier.

Cyrier says there is about $16.5 billion in federal funds that can be used here in Texas. He’s hoping this time around, his district will be able to get some of that money.

“So, my office has been working since, well, really the beginning of this year. And then when Lake Gonzales failed, it just put it in and just showed really the urgent need for this money to repair these dams. So, we’ve got that request in,” said Cyrier.

Cyrier says Governor Abbot is aware of what’s happening at these lakes and is hoping the issue can be given priority. If not, he says he will continue to champion the dams at a federal level.

Watch part 1 of this story in the video player at the top of this story, and part 2 below:

The failures are leaving a big impact on the community and the ecosystem.

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About the Author:

Jonathan Cotto is a reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He’s a bilingual award-winning news reporter and he joined KSAT in 2021. Before coming to San Antonio, Cotto was reporting along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy.