Wirtz Dam Floodgate Replacement Project
LCRA is renovating and modernizing Wirtz Dam to help ensure the dam continues to operate reliably and safely for years to come.
During the three-year, $76 million project, LCRA will remove each of the dam’s 10 floodgates and replace them with new, custom-made floodgates. Nine of the floodgates were installed when the dam was completed in 1951. The 10th was installed when the original Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant was completed in 1974.
LCRA also will upgrade the machinery that lifts the floodgates, called hoists. Two hoists will be replaced and eight will be refurbished. The hoist bridge also will be removed and replaced one section at a time.
Wirtz Dam will remain capable of responding to floods and water supply needs throughout the project. The project is expected to be completed in 2025.
Read FAQs about the project.
- Why is LCRA replacing the floodgates?
LCRA determined that replacing the floodgates, rather than refurbishing the existing floodgates, was the best option with the lowest safety risk, lowest environmental risk and least impact to the public. Replacing the floodgates will take about three years, roughly half of what it would take to refurbish the existing floodgates.
- How will the floodgates be replaced?
The 10 floodgates will be removed one at a time and replaced with newly constructed, custom-made floodgates that meet today’s engineering standards.Crews will install large steel beams called stoplogs to isolate an existing floodgate from water in Lake LBJ. Stoplogs allow crews to work in a dry area. Crews then will disassemble the existing floodgate, and a large crane on a construction barge will remove the floodgate pieces from the dam.
The new floodgate components will be trucked to a laydown yard adjacent to the Lake LBJ Yacht Club and Marina. Crews will assemble the new floodgates at the laydown yard and move them to the dam via a barge and crane for installation.
After each new floodgate is installed and tested for leaks and commissioned for operation, the construction barge will be moved to the next floodgate to repeat the process until all 10 floodgates have been replaced.
Work on each floodgate will take about two months.
- When will the project begin and how long will it take?
Workers will be on-site beginning in late January 2023. Installation on the first floodgate is scheduled begin in April 2023, and the project is expected to be completed in 2025.
- What if there is a flood during the project?
The dam will remain operational and able to move water downstream for water supply or flood management purposes throughout the project.The construction contractor will be in continual communication with LCRA staff and will be made aware of any weather conditions that could require floodgate operations. In the event of a major weather event, the construction barge will be moved away from the dam to a safe location.
- Will the project require LCRA to lower Lake LBJ?
LCRA does not anticipate it will need to lower Lake LBJ because of the floodgate replacement project.
- How will the project affect boat traffic on Lake LBJ?
Boat traffic will not be allowed in the area about 300 feet upstream of Wirtz Dam.The area about 150 feet upstream of the dam normally is off-limits to boaters, and that area will be roughly doubled during the project. A buoy line will mark the area to keep boaters safely out of the construction zone.
- How big are the new floodgates?
Each new floodgate weighs about 120,000 pounds, significantly heavier than the existing floodgates.The new floodgates are the same dimensions as the existing gates: 52 feet wide by 30 feet tall.
- What hours will construction take place? Will construction take place on nights and weekends?
Construction and equipment delivery will be scheduled Monday through Saturday between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. No construction is planned for Sundays.
- What route will construction traffic use?
Heavy equipment and the new floodgates will be staged in a laydown yard just south of Wirtz Dam. Trucks will travel to the site via FM 2147 south of the dam.
- How big is the dam? How much water can be moved through the dam at once?
The dam is 118.3 feet high and 5,491.4 feet long. The total discharge capacity of Wirtz Dam is approximately 319,000 cubic feet per second, or more than 143 million gallons a minute. Each of the 10 floodgates has a discharge capacity of 30,800 cfs, and the two hydroelectric turbines have a discharge capacity of 5,250 cfs each.