The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority’s decision to dewater — drain — the lakes came as quite a shock to many.
The management team’s stance on the safety is valid. The dams are aging and are well beyond their usefulness.
The structures that are holding back the water on the man-made lakes are close to 100 years old and beyond repair. Following the spill gate failure at Lake Dunlap in May and the failure at Lake Wood three years ago, the question of “if the remaining dams will fail” quickly changed to “when.”
With lakes McQueeney, Placid and Meadow all popular cooling off spots during the hot summer months, people flock to the waters edge, hop into watercraft of all kinds and enjoy all the expanded river has to offer.
But what happens if the Lake McQueeney Dam gives? The people out enjoying both Lake McQueeney and Lake Placid below are in immediate danger. There is little to no warning about when a spill gate is set to fail. It could happen at any time.
Safety might be why the decision is being made, but GBRA also needs to guide an open dialogue to help answer the important questions that will remain after the water level drops.
What will happen to the cities and towns that thrive around the lakes? What about the businesses? What about the property values?
All of those involved, cities, counties, real estate agents, chambers, need to be at the table to help answer these questions and figure out what happens next.