The South Concho River, the dam at Pugh Park, and the irrigation canal have been a part of life in Christoval since 1872. Now, erosion over time and significant flooding events are putting the dam at risk of failure. The time to act is now and Christoval needs YOUR HELP.
This is an effort by community members to save a precious resource and a historical feature. We are West Texans – when action is required, we step up. When folks are in need, we step in. Join us and others in this community to ensure that the area around Christoval continues to thrive and enjoy the unique beauty of the South Concho River as its been for the last 150 years!
The simplest way to donate is through our Save Christoval’s Water GoFundMe page.
You can also send a check to:
C/O Christoval Vineyards
PO Box 506
Christoval, TX 76935
Its not just about kayaking in Pugh Park or swinging from a rope swing into the cool clear waters. The Christoval Dam creates a significant community reservoir – this reservoir slowly seeps into the subsurface soils – which provide well water to the surrounding residents, businesses, farms, and schools around Christoval. Were the dam to fail, residence time for the waters of the South Concho River would be greatly reduced in the area, and so would the effective watershed area. Wells would run dry.
Not to mention the irrigation canal that supplies many residents, farmers, and ranchers with water directly from the canal. With no dam, the canal would dry up, impacting hundreds of people who rely on that water daily.
Finally, the irrigation canal diverts approximately 50% of the water volume of the South Concho, until it finally reunites with the river approximately 3.5 miles down river. After almost 150 years, almost the entire community downriver from Christoval depends on the flows and dynamics of this dual stream arrangement. Without the dam and associated canal, river levels at the low water crossing at Mineral Wells Road would rise – eliminating access for an entire community of residents.
Christoval is not alone. An article from the Texas Observer titled “Dammed to Fail” (April 1, 2019) notes that, of the 300 dam failures in Texas since 1910, half have occurred in the last nine years. While communities do their best to repair and maintain dams, the fact remains that significant expenditures of time and money are required to maintain this critical infrastructure. For years, the local community has made small spot repairs to this 148 year old dam, but recent significant flood events in 2007, 2018, and now in 2020 mean that a more deliberate and dedicated effort is required. Notably, in the same article quoted above, about a third of the observed dam failures were due to “overtopping” – when water rushes over the top of a dam. These Overtopping events can significantly damage the structure and put it at greater risk of collapse.
The Christoval dam has experienced significant decline in the last 15 years, making spot repairs inadequate. Evidence suggests that significant erosion is also occurring below the water and soil surface. A dedicated effort and a well-engineered, comprehensive repair solution will ensure that the dam, irrigation canal, and all the associated benefits remain accessible to the community for generations to come.
There are over 7500 dams in Texas – more than any other state – and the vast majority are privately owned by individuals and communities (like Christoval). The State of Texas and County governments have limited funds and resources to devote to maintaining these critical community features. In fact, government and regulatory bodies have expressed a desire to limit future dam construction and remove existing dams wherever possible, citing maintenance costs and environmental impacts as justifications.
If we allow the Christoval Dam to fail, it is unlikely that the community will gain approval for a new construction. Even if successful, the process of approvals and permitting can easily take 5 years or more. And today’s highly regulated environment will drive construction prices 5-10 times higher than repair costs will be today. What will happen to this vibrant, beautiful community when its residents can no longer gain access to good water sources? We can’t afford to take that chance.