More damage found at Gonzales hydro dam


Public Works Superintendent William Ince told the Gonzales city council at its regularly scheduled meeting May 9 that more structural issues have been found at the Gonzales hydroelectric station.

“When they were tearing out the deck, we found some more structural issues on some of the big foundation walls,” Ince said. “They’re bringing in the engineer to see if we might have to replace a footing and this is one of the main support walls on the building.”

City Manager Tim Patek was not alerted to the discovery prior to the meeting. Ince said he was told of the update “late this afternoon” by Ralph Camarillo, Gonzales’ project manager.

“I suggest we get a cost estimate on that sooner rather than later,” Mayor Connie Kacir said.

Prior to Ince’s update, Patek had just finished giving his own update on the project where he touched on the relicensing process, as well as construction progress.

“Shiner Engineering is doing a relicensing on it, everything is going great, as far as that goes,” Patek said. “Remember, when we get it relicensed, it will be for 40 years.”

Patek mentioned the construction’s target finish date was the end of June, but with the newly discovered damaged he acknowledged that could push the date to the end of July.

According to Patek, construction is currently working on electric, and once that is finished the focus will turn to the turbines.

“Once we get the electrical back on, then Thomas Brothers will be able to come back in and start working on the turbines,” Patek said. “Right now, of course, the river’s up, they can’t do anything, they’re still in Georgia and they’re working on our gearboxes and also our generators as well.”

Thomas Brothers Hydro is a contractor working on the project that specialize in “building and repairing hydraulic and electric hydro turbine systems.” Thomas Brothers helped with the last time the Gonzales hydroelectric dam was reconditioned in 1982.

At the end of the meeting, Kacir asked Patek to clarify how many of the turbine gearboxes needed to be reworked.  

“I’m pretty sure they had to rework all three,” Patek said. “I know they were talking about one that might still be good and the other two, but I think they had to go ahead and do all three, but I’ll find that out and I’ll report it at the next meeting.”

“Take that into account when we’re budgeting,” Kacir said.

Other news from the meeting:

  • Council approved allowing Finance Director Laura Zella to open accounts at Texas Local Government Investment Pool (TexPool) and transfer funds between Sage Capital Bank to TexPool. According to Zella, the city currently holds approximately $7.5 million in Sage Capital accounts and $1.5 million of that is deemed to “restricted.” Zella will move $1.25 million of the job fund, $1.25 million in the electric fund and $500,000 in wastewater funds. Of the $7.5 million currently with Sage Capital, $1.8 million is being used for capital improvements.
  • Council approved street closures and consumption of alcohol on city property for the Sacred Heart Spring Festival on June 8, 2019.
  • No citizens appeared for the early citizen input public hearing for next fiscal year’s city budget.
  • Both water meter resolutions were tabled.
  • Victoria College Training Center roof repair resolution was tabled because of uncertainty with the terms of potential grant.
  • Council approved closing and abandoning unopened city street abutting the property of Earline M. Vana.
  • Council approved amendments to the City of Gonzales personnel manual.
  • Council also approved creating job descriptions, amending position classification and amending the annual budget personnel request summary to include police cadets and firefighter trainees.  
  • According to Tim Patek, the Jim Price Clean-Up event had a great turnout.
  • Approval of minutes for April 11 council meeting was removed from the agenda to extend discussion time on TexPool changes. Those minutes will be presented at next council meeting.