On Tuesday morning, Guadalupe County lost a lake, and all that remains is a whole lot of mud and even more questions.
When Lake Dunlap’s dam spill gate failed, sending the contents of the lake rushing downstream in an 11,000 cfs pulse that swamped boathouses, it marked the second of six of Guadalupe Blanco River Authority’s hydroelectric dams to have suffered catastrophic spill gate failures.
The first, at Lake Wood in Gonzales County, happened three years ago. People there are still awaiting answers and on Thursday learned they will have to keep waiting — as will those around Lake Dunlap, who watched their waterfront homes become mudfront homes.
What happened at Lake Dunlap isn’t clear yet. Water releases from Canyon Lake to the north have prevented GBRA from launching an inspection, but signs point to a failure of structural steel in the spill gates — similar to what happened at Lake Wood.
As for the why, the answer is obvious. Age. All of GBRA’s hydrodams along this stretch are more than 85 years old. Lake Dunlap’s was older than 90.
Starting next week, the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung and The Seguin Gazette will jointly work on a series that explores what’s been left behind at Lake Dunlap, what the people at Lake Wood have dealt with that awaits the Lake Dunlap residents and what the way forward is for all of the GBRA hydroelectric dams.
On Thursday, GBRA pegged repairs and replacement of the gates on the dams at $15-$35 million for each dam, and said that it didn’t have the revenues to tackle such a large capital project.
That leaves more questions. Who does? Who will ultimately pay for it?
Together, both newspapers will try to get answers to those and other queries.