LCRA begins major improvement project at Wirtz Dam
Project will replace dam’s 10 floodgates with new custom-made gates to help ensure dam continues to operate reliably
Jan. 18, 2023
BURNET COUNTY, Texas – The Lower Colorado River Authority is beginning a $76 million, three-year project to remove and replace the 10 floodgates at Wirtz Dam to help ensure the dam continues to operate safely and reliably for years to come.
The dam, which creates Lake LBJ, was completed in 1951. The dam has nine original floodgates and a 10th floodgate that was added when the original Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant was constructed in 1974. Each floodgate will be carefully removed and replaced with a new custom-made floodgate that meets today’s engineering standards.
The work will be conducted 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.
The project continues LCRA’s long-standing commitment to public safety. 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. LCRA plans to invest more than $107 million in these types of projects over the next five years.
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.
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. For more information, visit lcra.org.