Council authorizes dam money for hydro fix


GONZALES — The Gonzales city council authorized the renovation of the Gonzales Hydro Station at Thursday's regular meeting. A decision was previously made in 2017 to find the funds to fix the structure and insure its continued operation.

The station is a hydroelectric generation and water intake plant on the Guadalupe River located off of Water St. It was built in the 1920s and last renovated in the 1980s. Since then, the station has had foundation movement due to steel deterioration in its reinforced concrete foundation.

Plans have been made to reconstruct part of the damaged foundation, mitigate erosion up and downstream from the plant, and upgrade and install new water intake pumps that suck water from the river into the water treatment plant.

Five bids were received for the work, and council selected the low bid of $642,352 by Sullivan Contracting Services. The work is expected to take 120 days to complete.

In other dam news, council agreed to fund renovations to the working mechanisms inside of the plant as well.

The work would include disassembling, inspecting, and rebuilding all three turbines, electric generators, and looking into fixes for the gearboxes as needed. The contract also includes the requirement to computerize and automate the plant to operate unmanned.

Public Works Director Keith Schauer addressed council on the matter and explained that repairs would not exceed $986,498 and that savings would be seen if they did not have to rebuild all of the gear boxes, as expected. This would save approximately $100,000. When asked how this would benefit the city, he described a city study conducted taking into account 20 years worth of flow rate from the Guadalupe. The expected electrical output would be 4.5-5 million kilowatt hours of electricity generated into the city grid annually, which could see savings of $80,000 to the city per year.

Council thought this a prudent thing to do and passed the resolution unanimously.

Members also heard a report from City Manager Tim Patek on research his office had conducted regarding allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages at the city-owned Independence Park Golf Course. Although the matter had been raised as a way to generate additional revenue for the city, Patek explained that the effort seemed to be too much for them to take on at this time — liability being the main concern — and recommended that the issue be cooled off and looked into at another time. Meanwhile, the course remains BYOB for those wishing to add some spirits to their swing.