Eastland County expected to rebuild Lake Leon dam with FEMA's help


EASTLAND, Texas - The Water Supply District of Eastland County held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss rebuilding the Lake Leon dam.

Flooding is common at Lake Leon. In 2007 the National Guard went to Eastland to rescue people from their flooded homes.

The most recent disaster was the 2015 Memorial Day flood, which affected many residents in the area.

Eastland County asked FEMA for help, and they have agreed to pay for 75 percent of the total $3.9 million cost. The county must apply for grants to pay for the remaining 25 percent of the cost not covered by FEMA.

Water Resources Engineer and Project Manager Chris Parker said they're currently in phase one, and preliminary engineering will go through spring of 2018.

" The gist of this project is really to mitigate some dam slope issues, dam slope stability issues, and also some flood mitigation measures," Parker said. "Basically, we're going to improve the dam slope and we're going to increase the hydraulic capacity of the dam."

Water Supply District Board President Steve Gerdes said the dam has suffered multiple slips over the years.

"What we're going to do is apply through the government land office in Austin for the other 25 percent," Gerdes said. "We have several individuals that are in the county that have volunteered also to help pay the difference."

Gerdes mentioned that the dam was completed in June of 1954 with the best engineering standards of its time.

"Engineering and dam design all changes over time, and we're just trying to bring it up to what would be current standards," Gerdes said.

Eastland County Judge Rex Fields said the county is doing as much as it can to help the residents near Lake Leon.

"We're giving as much assistance as we can to help the people of Lake Leon and both the cities of Ranger and Eastland, because this water supply is vital for about two-thirds of the county," Fields said.

Parker said he's confident in the work they will do.

"I'm very confident," Parker said. "This is something we've done a lot of, so it's a good project."

The county expects the construction process to begin in 2019, but they mentioned it depends on how fast FEMA can review all their documentation.