First of 10 new floodgates installed at Wirtz Dam


LCRA’s $76 million project will replace original floodgates to keep dam in top condition, ready to respond to flooding

The first of 10 new floodgates is in operation at Wirtz Dam in Burnet County. The new floodgate is in the middle. On the right is the next floodgate to be replaced.
BURNET COUNTY, Texas – The Lower Colorado River Authority has completed and installed the first of 10 new floodgates on Wirtz Dam, which forms Lake LBJ.

The new floodgate is the first to be installed as part of a $76 million, three-year project to remove and replace each of the dam’s original floodgates with new, custom-built floodgates made to today’s engineering standards. The dam was completed in 1951 with nine floodgates. A 10th floodgate was added when the original Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant was constructed in 1974.

“Most of the floodgates have been in place for 73 years, so it’s time for them to be updated,” said Kelly Payne, LCRA vice president of Water Operations. “We’re in a drought now, but we’re in Flash Flood Alley, and we know the next flood could be right around the corner.”

LCRA is replacing the floodgates one at a time so the dam remains operational and ready to pass floodwaters downstream, if needed.

The new 120,000-pound floodgates are constructed near the dam, then moved to the dam via construction barges and cranes.

“It’s an exacting process to remove and replace floodgates on a working dam,” Payne said. “We gained valuable insight on the first floodgate that is proving to be helpful as we work on removing and replacing the remaining floodgates.”

LCRA decided to replace rather than refurbish the floodgates after determining that replacement posed the lowest safety risk, lowest environmental risk and least impact to the public. Replacing the floodgates will take roughly half the time it would take to refurbish them.

LCRA also is upgrading the hoists that lift the floodgates. Two of the hoists will be replaced and eight will be refurbished. LCRA also will replace the existing hoist bridge.

The project is expected to be completed in 2025. Throughout the project, the area up to about 300 feet upstream of the dam on Lake LBJ will remain off-limits to boaters.

The project follows similar projects on other dams. In October 2020, LCRA completed a project to replace the nine original floodgates on Tom Miller Dam in Austin, and in 2021, LCRA completed a project to upgrade and rehabilitate each of the 37 floodgates at Buchanan Dam in Burnet County.

Since fiscal year 2010, LCRA has invested more than $165 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. LCRA plans to invest more than $101 million in these types of projects over the next five years.

About LCRA

The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; providing a clean, reliable water supply; and offering outdoor adventures at more than 40 parks along the Colorado River from the Texas Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to fulfilling our mission to enhance the quality of life of the Texans we serve through water stewardship, energy and community service. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934 and receives no state appropriations.

Contact Info

Clara Tuma, Public Information Officer
[email protected]
After hours: 512-944-6719