After a state agency conducted random inspections of dams in McLennan County, county leaders are asking a federal agency to do in-depth assessments before prioritizing their repairs.
According to TCEQ, its findings included cracking on several of the dams, cattle trails on dams, erosion on the slopes and seepage along the downstream toe. In addition, one of the dams had a collapsed service spillway pipe.
One of the sites inspected in the past three years included a Castleman Creek Dam Site 4, located off Rosenthal Parkway. That dam is one of 19 in the county called high hazard due to its size and area it protects, such as roads, pipelines, and homes.
At that location, water has seeped through the back of the dam, causing the soil to slough off or slide. If the sloughing gets worse, it can become a concern if there is a major rain event.
"If we have sloughing to the extent where we think a breach is imminent, the dam will be drained, [and] residents downstream will be notified," Lammert said. “Dams will not continue to hold water if we think there is any imminent threat of breach."
Lammert said at this point the TCEQ did not find a threat or a breach when it conducted its inspections.
According to Lammert, many of these dams are old and outdated.
"Most of the dams were built in the 1950s and 1960s. They were intended for about a 40 to 50-year service life. We've exceeded that now. They were also built with the best flood data and rainfall data they had at the time."
The McLennan County Commissioner’s Court asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service to focus on inspecting the 19 high hazard dams. The inspection, which will be at no cost, will help county leaders prioritize the dams that need quicker repairs.
“If anything needs to be mitigated downstream, we’ll look at the cost of repairing those dams. We will look at some federal and state assistance to do that type of work,” Lammert said.
According to TCEQ, the dams need a study performed to determine their hydraulic adequacy and what if any modifications are needed.
Lammert said some of the projects that may be needed after the NRCS finishes its inspections could cost several million dollars. Those inspections will be conducted in a span of several years and done at the same time of the ones performed by TCEQ.
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