JASPER COUNTY, Texas — The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers announced a plan to make repairs to an uncontrolled dam south of Lake Sam Rayburn.

Officials at Sam Rayburn Reservoir and at the B.A. Steinhagen/Town Bluff Reservoir in Jasper announced a plan Friday, July 19 to repair the dam. 

Contractors plan to survey the site for construction July 24. The USACE Fort Worth District Water Management started drawing the lake down to 65 feet above mean sea level (msl), The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers said in a news release. Normally, the lake is at 82.5 feet above msl.  

All boat ramps on the lake will be dry, officials said. Visitors will not be able to access the lake. Within a week or two, contractors may need to begin working on the upstream side of the dam, depending on what they find, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers said. 

The lake is scheduled to be back up at normal water levels around the end of August if repairs go according to plan. But the lake will probably be out of commission during Labor Day weekend, officials said. 

The Lower Neches Valley Authority's water requirements during late August will affect Town Bluff's release rate and how quickly B.A. Steinhagen Lake will return to normal water levels, officials said. 

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers said they hope to have the lake re-opened to the public by mid-September for the annual Texas Parks and Wildlife alligator hunt and teal season. 

Press release from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers...

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials at Sam Rayburn Reservoir and B.A. Steinhagen/Town Bluff Reservoir, Jasper, Texas, announced a plan Friday, July 19 for necessary repairs on the uncontrolled spillway/dam of B. A. Steinhagen Lake.

On July 22, contractors will mobilize on site prior to the pre-construction survey scheduled on July 24. In an effort to facilitate this survey, USACE Fort Worth District Water Management has begun drawing the lake down to a target elevation of 65 feet above msl (normal lake elevation is 82.5 feet above msl). This action will eliminate lake access, as all boat ramps on the lake will be dry. Within a one to two week timeframe, contractors will begin making repairs to the upstream face of the concrete-capped uncontrolled spillway (dam), which may require the lake to be lowered to the 60-65 feet elevation range for a short window of time, depending on the conditions found.

The current schedule is to have the lake trending back up by the end of August, but the rate of rise will depend on the progress of work, inflow from the Neches River, Sam Rayburn releases through hydropower generation, and what the downstream flow requirements are at that time. The hydropower generation schedule will create pulses of water causing peak and valley water-level fluctuations to occur throughout the day.

Lower Neches Valley Authority water requirements in late August will partially dictate Town Bluff's release rate and influence how quickly B. A. Steinhagen returns to normal lake levels. The proposed work schedule should return the lake to a usable elevation by mid-September, allowing for public access during the annual TPWD alligator hunt and teal season.

Unless work progresses more rapidly than anticipated, lake levels will be too low for use during the Labor Day weekend. During repair work all public access to the fishing platforms on both the east and west side of the dam will be closed.

Be advised that weather or other unforeseen events may prolong the drawdown of B. A. Steinhagen Lake, but every effort will be made to return the lake to a usable elevation as quickly as possible.

Foot access to the exposed lake bottom is permitted but discouraged, as mud flats can be unstable and present a safety hazard.  All vehicle and ATV/UTV traffic on the lakebed is prohibited.