NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas -- On Wednesday, Guadalupe Blanco River Authority signed a memorandum of understanding recognizing Preserve Lake Dunlap Association’s desire to create a water control improvement district, along with what PLDA board member Larry Johnson calls a "roadmap" of how to get it done.
"We've talked about the big picture of what the role of the water control improvement district would be and what the role of GBRA would be,” Johnson said. “GBRA is going to continue to operate and own the dam. They're going to manage the operations and maintenance expenses. We're going to finance the repair of the dam, and also create a sinking fund for long-term replacement of the gates on a schedule."
A single spill gate at the dam at Lake Dunlap failed in mid-May, draining the majority of the lake down to just the existing Guadalupe River bed.
Johnson said the big key to the long term fix is the agreement that GBRA will fund design and engineering work, and chip in money from Dunlap's hydroelectric power.
"There's a big funding component. We've worked with the GBRA to take advantage of the hydro electric revenues that the dam produces,” he said. “Dunlap has the best producing hydro facility in the chain of lakes, and so there's some substantial revenues that can come from that."
PLDA announced at a town hall in early October that a preliminary agreement had been reached with GBRA to fix the dam. Wednesday’s memorandum solidifies that agreement. As Johnson said, the plan hinges on the creation of the WCID that would tax lakefront property owners. In addition to the taxing entity, GBRA said the hydroelectric funds will go toward the construction and maintenance of the dam.
“They're taking a financial role by allowing us to apply the revenues from hydroproduction to the repair of the dam, which is a huge thing actually because they just don't have repair monies for the damn. So that's that's going to help tremendously,” Johnson said. “They have the expertise, you know, to do this work. They've put millions of dollars into engineering and thinking about it. And so in a lot of ways, it simply wouldn't be possible without the kinds of support the GBRA is providing.”
Johnson says although seeing a light at the end of the tunnel is exciting, it's been a tough road.
"I would rather have not had the spill gate failure at all but the fact that we're now talking about building is tremendous. It's positive, it's optimistic, it's future focused."
He and the rest of PLDA have been working constantly alongside GBRA to come to this agreement.
"There's a certain critical mass that you need to have to be able to put together a community based effort like this. We're going to get this back. It's what the hat says,” Johnson said.
PLDA is expecting a water district vote next May, with dam construction slated to begin as early as next summer. It's expected to be complete by the end of 2021. The association said Lake Dunlap could be full again by 2022.
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