Drought taking toll on local amenities and retention lakes
By Betsy Dolan
Several area subdivisions are facing large scale repairs to keep their amenity lakes filled and functional after the effects of this summer’s historic drought.
Greatwood’s largest lake, Golf Course Lake, is undergoing a $1.7 million dollar repair project to its bulkhead or retaining wall system. The walls were built over 20 years ago with unreinforced concrete and were breaking down and causing erosion problems. This summer’s drought caused sections of the wall to actually break away leading the Levy Improvement District 11, which owns the lake to take immediate action.
Construction crews are now slowly draining Golf Course Lake so that the retaining walls can be replaced. Michael Rusk of LJA Engineering says they are using materials that will be stronger and more long lasting.
“We’re using what is called Gabion baskets which are steel wire baskets filled with rock and stacked together,” Rusk says.”The life span is around 20 to 40 years but if one area fails we can repair that section without damaging the surrounding wall.”
Greatwood has five lakes in the subdivision but Golf Course Lake is the only one that was built as a retention lake. It is designed to hold additional water when flood gates must be closed and large pumping stations cannot remove enough water to allow for suitable draining from the communities. Rusk says the new materials are stable enough to withstand fluctuating water levels.
In the Oyster Creek Estates subdivision the drought caused their amenity lake to all but dry up this past summer. The homeowner’s association asked the Sugar Land City Council for permission to drill a permanent well in order to keep the lake filled during times of drought. The City Council approved their request and SuEllen Staggs, Director of Utilities says it is the best option.
“We did look at using Oyster Creek water and some other options but we did not find a viable alternative that was inexpensive. Drilling a well really was the most affordable option for the HOA.”
The Oyster Creek Estates homeowner’s association will assume all financial responsibility for the well’s construction and maintenance. The city will ensure that the well is safe and does not conflict with any drinking water wells, Staggs said. The well will only generate four to five million gallons of water every year which falls below the 10 million gallon limit in the city’s Groundwater Reduction Plan. Staggs also says that there are 17 or 18 wells that are currently used to fill amenity lakes.
“If we have the ability to convert them to some other supply we will. Some of those wells use such little water that it is just not economically feasible to go in another direction at this time. It is the best financial option for these HOA’s,” Staggs added.
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