NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas - Visitors to Lake Dunlap this Memorial Day weekend will be left high and dry after a spillgate failure there last week drained much of the water. “We now live on a lake with no lake,” said Wendy Cox, who has lived near the lake for more than 20 years.
In the days following the dam failure, people who normally live along the water’s edge watched as it moved farther and farther away. “I never knew that big island was out there and I'm always used to seeing water,” said Daniel Rein who has lived on the lake for decades.
Dozens of boats are left stranded on their lifts. “There's dirt too far and there's no way to get the boat in the water, so it'll probably sit there for two or three years,” Rein said.
Wildlife left rotting in the hot sun.
“There's a lot of death down there; dead fish, dead turtles,” Cox said.
People are wondering what problems the lack of water could bring next.
“Where the concern is, is on the walls. Because the water holds the walls up and, after a period of time, the walls start caving in and that's what's really going to be the big problem,” said Rein.
The dam failure couldn't have happened at a worse time. Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest for visitors at Lake Dunlap. “Many, many boats, jet skis, a lot of tubers, and a lot of boats towing tubes and watercrafts,” Rein said.
“They're going to go elsewhere. They're going to go to other lakes. They're going to have to go to Canyon Lake, I guess, because I'm not sure where else they can go. So, yeah, we're going to lose a lot of business in town from this,” said Cox.
Unfortunately, the problems at Lake Dunlap are far from over. Neighbors have been told it could take years for the dam to be repaired and water levels to return to normal.
“The value of our property's going way down I believe,” Rein said.
“They've already dropped. As soon as that water was gone, and the talk of them not fixing it for years, property values dropped tremendously here,” said Cox.
The Guadalupe Blanco River Authority said repairing the dam will cost between $15 and 35 million.