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Residents concerned after Green Lake Dam collapse

Some residents say county isn't assuring safety
Posted at 7:31 PM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 20:31:42-04

PORTLAND, Texas — Lisa and John Parker live near the dam and said it’s concerning and stressful that the the dam collapse has caused erosion on their property.

They said the dam has been slowly deteriorating for about four years, especially after Hurricane Harvey. The couple is worried that if there is more erosion on their property, the erosion could potentially cause their house to collapse as well.

“Right now I think that’s a reasonable concern if we have any more rain and it keeps collapsing,” Lisa Parker said.

They are currently talking to county officials and engineers to prevent further erosion and said they have been told that there might not be enough materials to fix the dam soon. They feel the county hasn’t done enough to protect them against erosion of their property.

“I hope they have a new sense of urgency…that they put to the table some quick resolutions regardless of the cost. I know that’s always a driving factor but I hope that they can set that aside and work towards public safety,” Lisa Parker said.

Their neighbor, George Bhakta, is also concerned, saying he just moved about a year ago and said it’s scary living in an area that could flood. He said he never could have imagined the dam would collapse when he first moved into the neighborhood. He said he was not alerted by city officials or the realtor that it could happen.

“We’ve been watching every week you know and the water….every time it rains….it loosens some land,” Bhakta said.

Dr. Larry McKinney, the chair for Gulf Strategies at TAMUCC’s Harte Research Institute, said freshwater fish from the dam are at risk now that they have entered the Corpus Christi Bay, which has saltier water with predators.

“They’re (predators) probably gathering right around the mouth of this dam break right now because they will be attracted to the currents that are up there,” McKinney said.

McKinney said fish and wildlife would survive for a while in the bay because it has rained recently, making the bay water a little more fresh.

He said the main issue of concern is that dams are not good for bays because bays depend on the fresh water for nutrients and sediments and dams stop sediment.

The San Patricio Drainage District provided a statement to KRIS 6 and said they’re currently working with local government officials to find funding for the construction of a new dam and spillway structure. The statement can be found below:

“As a result of the recent heavy rainfall events in the Gregory/Portland area, the Green Lake Dam structure was structurally comprised, resulting in the collapse of the structure. The Green Lake Dam was originally built as an earthen dam by the farming community back in the 1940’s as an erosion control dam without an overflow spillway. The San Patricio County Drainage District (SPCDD) made structural repairs to the dam and lowered the upstream intake elevation in the 1980’s. The SPCDD has been planning for the complete replacement of the dam and is currently working with local governmental officials to facilitate the funding for the construction of a new dam/spillway structure. Currently, engineering plans and permitting for the new dam is on-going and construction of the new dam/spillway structure can begin in 2022.”