Lake Dunlap is a small Texas reservoir on the Guadalupe River. It resides just southeast of New Braunfels, a small town of about 80,000 residents about halfway between Austin and San Antonio.
Just after 8:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, the dam reserving water in Lake Dunlap partially collapsed. The exact moment was captured on camera.
11,000 cubic feet of water rushed through the rift every second. This has greatly reduced the level of the lake upstream, leading to sundry property issues like collapsing bulkheads and beached boats.
Infrastructure failures like the dam at Lake Dunlap are starting to become common in Texas. Last August, we reported on a parking garage in Irving, Texas that collapsed, “damaging cars on multiple levels.”
We also reported that these structural failures are symptoms of a larger trend, as the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card grade of D+ by the American Society of Civil Engineers indicates a worrisome progression.
This progression of failing infrastructure leads, inexorably, to tragedies like the Brumadinho Dam Disaster in Brazil earlier this year. This collapse resulted in over 200 confirmed fatalities.
Thankfully, no one was killed or injured in Texas last August or earlier this week. But without question, American infrastructure needs a shot in the arm. Politically, economically, socially, this issue needs to occupy the forefront of our civil discourse.
America is just under 250 years old — relatively young as far as countries go. But the infrastructure and buildings that make up our civic networks are reaching old age. This spells danger and a shrinking lifespan for older structures we still use every day. Luckily, there is a way to test foundations without harming the infrastructure using electromagnetic and dispersive wave propagation (DWP). This form of testing is referred to as nondestructive testing of critical infrastructure (NDT).