BURNET COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A $76 million, three-year project is starting on the Wirtz Dam in Burnet County.
The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) will be removing and replacing the 10 floodgates at Wirtz Dam to ensure it continues operating safely and reliably.
The dam, which creates Lake Lyndon B. Johnson, was completed in 1951.
There are nine original floodgates, plus a tenth that was added when the original Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant was constructed in 1974.
Each floodgate will be removed and replaced with a new, custom-made floodgate that meets today’s engineering standards.
The work will be done on one floodgate at a time to help ensure the dam remains operational and available to pass floodwaters downstream.
“We could do this project more quickly if we replaced multiple floodgates at once, but we are in Flash Flood Alley and that is not a viable option,” said John Hofmann, executive vice president of Water. “Dams along the Highland Lakes play a critical role in managing floodwaters, and we have to maintain their readiness at all times.”
Work on each floodgate is expected to take about two months, with the entire project expected to be completed in 2025.
In addition to replacing the floodgates, LCRA will upgrade the machinery that lifts the floodgates, called hoists. Two hoists will be replaced and eight will be refurbished. LCRA also will replace the existing hoist bridge.
During the project, the area immediately upstream of Wirtz Dam on Lake LBJ that is off-limits to boaters will be expanded by about 150 feet, to about 300 feet, to allow construction crews ample room to remove and replace the floodgates. A buoy line will be in place to cordon off the construction area.
The new 120,000-pound floodgates will be assembled in an area south of the dam, then moved to the dam via construction barges and cranes.
Construction crews preparing the laydown yard will be in the area beginning in late January. Heavy equipment is expected to begin arriving in mid-February. Installation of the first floodgate is planned to begin in April.
Read more about the project at www.lcra.org/wirtzdamproject.
Since fiscal year 2010, LCRA has invested more than $134 million in capital projects at the dams along the Highland Lakes, Lake Bastrop and Lake Fayette, including on the dams themselves and related hydroelectric generation infrastructure. According to a press release, LCRA plans to invest more than $107 million in these types of projects over the next five years.