Editor’s note: this open letter is addressed to Mr. Kevin Patteson, General Manager of the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority.
Since 2016, our community has struggled with the failure of the dam at Lake Wood in Gonzales County. This lake and each of the other five in Gonzales and Guadalupe County under the control of the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) are more than just a part of GBRA’s hydro-electric portfolio; they are part of our homes, our culture and our livelihood.
I saw the devastation caused by the failure at Lake Wood and most recently at Lake Dunlap and understand the age of these structures is of concern to everyone involved; however, I am requesting additional consideration before you finalize draining the remaining four lakes.
Throughout this process, GBRA has been open to my office and willing to communicate every step of the way. You’ve share information in a timely manner, including the “Dunlap Spillgate Hinge Inspection Report” dated Aug. 13, 2019. This report, which was attached to the release announcing the drawdowns, concludes that “the remaining gates at all other dams in the system are no longer adequate for continued service.” Unfortunately, this opinion comes from a visual inspection, post-failure of a single dam and not any inspections of the dams scheduled to be drained. Because of this, I would like to request inspections of each of the four dams in question before any action is taken to drain them.
Additionally, I understand the unpredictability of this process, and I agree we should be diligent in our efforts to ensure the public’s safety. In order to further ensure the safety of those who live on the lakes and those who may use the lakes, I would also request that GBRA work in coordination with state local officials to declare an emergency closure of each of the four lakes and withdraw any current plans to drain the lakes at this time. It took over three years from the failure at Lake Wood to the failure at Lake Dunlap, and once the lakes are drained, the harm to local property and wildlife has been done and will take years if not decades to repair.
These two actions would give our state and local officials additional time to determine appropriate funding for temporary repairs or even replacements without causing irreparable damage to our local resources. Our community continues to struggle with GBRA’s decision to drain the lakes at this time, and your consideration of these requests would go a long wat to show your partnership in this issue.
Thank you for your continued coordination with our office, and I look forward to working with you to find an adequate solution to this issue.