Contractor given the green light to begin work on Lake Dunlap dam two years after spill gate failure

Lake Dunlap dropped an estimated 14 feet after a spill gate failed in May of 2019. (Courtesy Larry Johnson)
Lake Dunlap dropped an estimated 14 feet after a spill gate failed in May of 2019. (Courtesy Larry Johnson)

Lake Dunlap dropped an estimated 14 feet after a spill gate failed in May of 2019. (Courtesy Larry Johnson)

Two years to the day after a key spill gate at Lake Dunlap’s dam failed, the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority has given contractors the green light to begin construction on a new dam.

After the original dam failed on May 14, 2019, residents and members of the Preserve Lake Dunlap Association began working with the GBRA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to propose a Water Control and Improvement District that would allow residents to tax themselves to pay for the improvements.

The WCID received approval from voters during the November 2020 election, and the GBRA secured a low-interest loan of $40 million from the Texas Water Development Board’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund program, according to Doug Harrison, president of the Lake Dunlap WCID.

“To have [approval] happen on the anniversary of the day [the dam] fell was kind of a bittersweet reminder of the day that happened,” Harrison said. “But it is humbling to look back two years and see how much our group of neighbors and volunteers all came together and got all this done.”

The estimated cost of the dam is $35 million, and like all dams in the GBRA system, it will be hydroelectric. The GBRA has committed to diverting revenue from the sale of energy produced by the dam to help pay off the loan.

Zachry Group was selected as the contractor in early 2021, and the work is anticipated to last for two years, Harrison said. Construction was originally planned to begin in late April, but severe weather delayed the groundbreaking until this week.

A flood delay is included in the construction timeline, Harrison said, which will provide some flexibility for the contractor.

“If there is a brief flood period, we ought to be right on target for 24 months,” Harrison said. “If there is no flood, it will be faster, and if there is more than one big bad flood it will be slower.”

With water levels that have remained approximately 14 feet below regular levels, residents with homes along the lake have dealt with docks hovering up to 18 feet above the muddy ground and falling property values.

As construction gets underway, Harrison and other residents are encouraged by the progress and hopeful that the project will be a long-lasting solution to refill the lake.

“There were certainly a lot of skeptics, and a lot of naysayers that just didn't believe we'd ever get this done,” Harrison said. “When people actually see bulldozers out there pushing dirt, big machines out there pouring concrete, there will just be some sense of relief that this really is going to happen.”
By Lauren Canterberry
Lauren began covering New Braunfels for Community Impact Newspaper in 2019. Her reporting focuses on education, development, breaking news and community interest stories. Lauren is originally from South Carolina and is a graduate of the University of Georgia.


Chupik Properties and Design anticipates having 15 homes completed by the end of this year. (Courtesy Chupik Properties and Design)
Chupik Properties kicks off Farmhaus New Braunfels project

Ten homes are currently under construction, and the design company anticipates opening the properties for contracts later this summer.

The property along FM 1102 has been rezoned for mixed-use development. (Courtesy city of New Braunfels)
One rezoning dies, another approved by New Braunfels City Council

A proposed rezoning at the intersection of Klein Road and Walnut Avenue was halted after council members did not make a motion on the item.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas issued a call for Texans to conserve energy June 14. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
ERCOT asks Texans to conserve energy with generation outages 2.5 times higher than normal

"This is unusual for this early in the summer season," said Woody Rickerson, ERCOT vice president of grid planning and operations, in a news release.

UT Austin football stadium filled with fans
In Austin and the rest of the nation, the business of college sports is changing

If Gov. Greg Abbott signs SB 1325 into law, Texas will join a number of other U.S. states in allowing college athletes to profit off their names, images and likenesses.

Lingering symptoms, long-term impact of COVID-19 will take time to fully understand

Dr. Mary Katherine Theoktisto answers questions regarding the virus.

Salvation Pizza, opening in the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport June 16, is one of several new pizza options in the Austin area. (Courtesy Salvation Pizza)
Pie chart: See a map of 11 new, coming-soon pizza options in the Austin area

New spots include Above Ground Pizza opening in New Bruanfels after several permitting delays and Salvation Pizza feeding travelers at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

The extension of Kenney Fort Boulevard is underway north of Hwy. 79. (Amy Bryant/Community Impact Newspaper)
North-south road in Round Rock makes progress; homestead exemption OK'd in Leander and more Central Texas news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Central Texas area.

Gov. Greg Abbott, center signed Senate Bills 2 and 3 into law June 8 in response to the devastating winter storm last February. (Trent Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gov. Abbott signs bills to reform ERCOT and weatherize Texas power grid

The bills will go into effect Sept. 1 and aim to reform ERCOT leadership and increase accountability and communication among power agencies.