Red Mill Dam

Water rushes over the unresponsive spillgate at Red Mill Dam on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021 draining the lake down to the river channel.

Malfunction of a spill gate at Lake Placid last week amid flooding rains has caused a trickle-down effect to another area lake.

The spill gate that refused engineers attempts to raise it after Thursday’s storms has crews dropping the level at Lake McQueeney to work on the Placid dam, according to Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority Communications Manager Lindsey Campbell and an update the authority posted on gvlakes.com, the website dedicated to the Guadalupe Valley Lakes.

“We are going to be reducing the flow that comes down from McQueeney in order to get water off of the non-responsive spill gate at Lake Placid for further evaluation and inspection,” Campbell said Monday evening. “Crews are still working to reengage that gate and working to get water off it in order to allow for a more comprehensive evaluation and inspection.”

GBRA plans to temporarily lower the water level by about a foot at Lake McQueeney. Lowering of the lake is to allow for better visibility of the non-responsive spill gate at Lake Placid, the authority said.

GBRA lowered Lake McQueeney Tuesday morning by passing flows through the powerhouse, avoiding spill gate operations, the authority said. GBRA expected Lake McQueeney levels to return by late afternoon Tuesday.

There’s never a good time for spill gate malfunctions but what happened at Lake Placid came at an inopportune moment, said Fill Fisher, president of the Citizens United for Lake Placid lake association.

“It’s untimely because construction on the new dam is slated for some time in 2022,” he said. “Everybody was operating under the feeling, understanding and comfort that the water would be lowered with the construction of the dam. Obviously, Mother Nature had a different idea.”

When remnants of Hurricane Pamela dropped between 6 and 10 inches of rain on the Guadalupe Oct. 13 and 14, river flows increased and flooded parts of the lakes system. GBRA lowered gates to release water and determined Thursday that a gate at Lake Placid was non-responsive.

The river authority advised property owners to secure boats and recreational property.

The lake continued to fall over the weekend and by Monday afternoon levels had dipped significantly, Fisher said.

“It’s substantially drained,” he said. “The flow is in its basic riverbed, now. I mean, I can’t tell you how deep it is because I’m not walking across the mud to get to it.”

Draining of the lake caused a “multitude” of boats to either be stuck in the mud and/or stuck in their boat lifts, Fisher said.

Homeowners’ emotions were all over the place following the dewatering, he said. Residents and property owners along the lake weren’t blindsided by the occurrence but the reality of it happening still stirred emotions, the association president said.

“For those of us who live on the lake and have been dealing with this all these years, it was not unexpected,” Fisher said. “The dam is almost 100 years old.”

Property owners understand that each high-water event stresses the dam and its facilities, he said. Certain types of debris washed toward the structures can cause additional stress, Fisher said.

No matter the causes of the most current spill gate malfunction, he said he recognized GBRA doing all in its power to reengage the gate. CULP on Monday was involved in disseminating information about the issue, Fisher said, adding that the association couldn’t do much more.

“Obviously, CULP is a property owners association and doesn’t have any power. We haven no control over the operations of the dam, the lake or the Guadalupe River,” he said. “Our best efforts now are to get as much accurate information out to the lake community as we can on a timely basis.”

CULP was providing information through its social media channels on Facebook and Twitter, and at the lakeplacidtx.org website.

Dalondo Moultrie is the assistant managing editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at dalondo.moultrie@seguingazette.com .

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