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Lake Dunlap set to empty after gate failure

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Lake Dunlap draining

Jason Phillips sent in photos of Lake Dunlap on Tuesday morning as it began to drain after a gate failure in the dam. Guadalupe Blanco River Authority officials said Tuesday afternoon that the lake was expected to empty on Tuesday evening.

Editor's note: This was the early version of the story filed after the morning incident at Lake Dunlap in which the spill gate failed.

Water continued to pour out of Lake Dunlap on Tuesday afternoon, draining the lake after a spill gate on the dam failed Tuesday morning.

Officials say the lake, located in the northern portion of Guadalupe County on the Guadalupe River, will have completely drained by day’s end.

“The lake levels have dropped approximately six feet,” Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) spokesperson Patty Gonzales said just after noon on Tuesday. “We do expect the lake to dewater later today, maybe this evening.”

Water began to surge over the Lake Dunlap dam after the spill gate failed around 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, dumping water downstream at about 11,000 cubic-feet-per-second (CFS), causing river and lake levels downstream to rise.

No evacuations were called, however, residents and recreationalists were advised to take precautions as the water surged down the river.

“We have some initial flooding with the water surge that will even out as the natural g mitigates that impact of that pulse,” Gonzales said. “We are asking people downstream to take precautions, tying down any recreational items and for recreationalist to be mindful of the dangerous conditions. There could be swift currents, the water flows could be approximately 2,000 cfs.”

Assistant Emergency Management Coordinator Bryce Houlton said GBRA was using the floodgates downstream to help control the rapid flow of water that was released to avoid any more damage.

“The ones that are closer to the dam are the ones that are going to be most affected the quickest,” Houlton said. “We’re looking at, hopefully, minor stuff. We’re monitoring it and trying to keep everybody as updated as possible. The National Weather Service is looking at it as well.”

As crews assessed the situation, Gonzales said the failure appears to be similar to the one that drained Lake Wood three years ago.

Since then, GBRA has worked with engineers to design new gates for the river system, however, it could be costly.

“The design is not yet completed, but the cost could be tens of millions of dollars for each of the six dams,” said. “So, this does create a funding issue.”

It is still unclear when the flow of water will slow, Gonzales said.

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(1) comment

Jane Finneran

Patty Gonzales was misquoted in the 6th paragraph, as she surely did not speak of typography, but topography relating to the flow of water over the landscape.

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