A project to add additional gates to the Lake Houston dam spillway is entering the final design phase, officials with the San Jacinto River Authority confirmed June 5. However, the long-awaited project's anticipated completion date has now been delayed to 2026.

What you need to know

The plan to add 11 gates to the spillway dam's existing four-gate structure comes from a 2020 initiative to develop a "joint reservoir operations study" between Lake Conroe and Lake Houston. The study was funded by a grant from the Texas Water Development Board, which required a 50% match from local agencies, such as the city of Houston and city of Humble, for a total of $1 million alongside "in-kind" contributions from the SJRA.

"Our joint ops project that we went and got grant money for, that's kind of in support of after the gate is installed," said Matt Barrett, SJRA flood management division manager. "It would help develop a protocol for their gate and a forecast tool, and things of that nature."

Zooming in

The effort is being led by Houston city officials and the Coastal Water Authority. According to SJRA documents, the project was originally expected to be complete by October. However, Barrett said that timeline is no longer accurate, and once design is complete, construction may be delayed by as much as two years.

As previously reported by Community Impact, officials will likely look to the state during the next legislative session for funding for the actual construction of the gates.

Quote of note

"[Houston and CWA officials] have been working hard over the past few years to find an alternative that is feasible. It's just with an old dam structure, they have to find something [that's] cost effective and would work engineering wise," Barrett said. "We are kind of on hold waiting to see what they are going to do. We really need to know what they're going to build before we go through that."