On Wednesday morning a large valve on the Athens Fish and Game Lake Dam, near Athens, was opened, a major step in relieving pressure from erosion that occurred during heavy rainfall on Sunday night and Monday morning.
Athens Municipal Water Authority President Steve Sparkman said when, where and how permanent repairs to the dam are going to be done is yet to be determined, but emergency measures are well underway to alleviate any immediate danger.
The 12-inch-valve hasn't been opened in 17 years and is the "main drain" for the lake, similar to the plug on a bathtub, Sparkman said.
"It's literally down on the old creek bed," Sparkman said.
Work started to pull out gates at the bottom of the spillway to allow even more water to flow.
"The emergency is almost over," Sparkman said. "There won't be any pressure on that dam anymore."
Accounts that the Texas Department of Transportation intended to breach the top of the dam to relieve pressure are not correct.
"That is not, nor was it ever, going to happen," Sparkman said.
By Wednesday morning, the water in the Fish and Game Lake was back to normal level.
"They are drawing down at least another four or five feet as we speak," Sparkman said.
"The county surveyor has surveyed the pathway for a temporary emergency spillway to go around the dam, which is a safeguard in the event of another horrific, huge rainfall, to prevent any water from rising up and going over the road again," Sparkman said.
The stage 2 emergency spillway is similar to one at Lake Athens.
"It is running from the lake around the dam in the existing, natural ground and will spill back into the Flat Creek area, where the water already spills," Sparkman said. "I can't imagine with all of these gates, pipes and other things opened up that it will ever be needed."