After the collapse of the Green Lake Dam on May 19, a slew of lingering questions erupted on the subject, especially if and how Northshore Country Club would operate and manage without Green Lake and its water supply.
When the dam, originally built in the 1940s, gave way, water from the lake spilled onto the golf course, causing major damage to many of the holes on the back nine, including tremendous erosion to the 13th hole, and some on the 15th. Because of the erosion, the back nine at Northshore remains closed.
According to Northshore Country Club General Manager Daryl Genzer, reports have made the situation sound much more dire than it is.
“I think a lot of question and concern for club members, the community and our residents is that this is going to cause the country club to close,” Genzer said, adding, “We have a water source, obviously, that water is going to cost more than the water in Green Lake did, but we do have an available water source, and we have every intention of continuing to keep the golf course going.”
The existing water source in question is a water tap that runs through the San Patricio County Municipal Water District, which was originally installed in the 1990s and only used in extreme situations and droughts.
“It’s not like we’re totally out of water,” Genzer said. “We have a short term circumstance where, while the county is out here doing some of this erosion control work that they need to get done immediately, the 13th hole won’t be playable from the original tees.
“We’re hoping within the next week or two weeks we will be able to get that back nine opened back up once the erosion is stabilized.”
As Genzer explains it, the Green Lake dam is in the jurisdiction of the San Patricio County Drainage District, and the district is responsible for addressing the lack of drainage ditches and their capacity to move drainage waters when it rains from Gregory all the way through Portland and its surrounding areas.
“It’s not just the dam that’s part of the drainage problems,” Genzer added. “It’s the whole area and the lack of adequate drainage ditches and depth and volume carrying capacities to get the water off of these low lying and flat areas.
“So the county’s responsible for doing that, and they’re out here now working with their equipment to stabilize the erosion that happened from the failure of the dam.”
The district is in the process of diverting water into different areas surrounding Green Lake dam to ensure no additional erosion occurs. Brand new dirt and other materials have been brought in to replace what was lost to the bay with the failure of the dam.
According to Genzer, the Texas Water Development Board through the Nueces River Authority has become the lead agency of the project due to their direct link back to the state, which awarded a grant and funding for improvements. This only represents a portion of the funds needed for the $13 million repairs.
The $13 million needed, Genzer explains, is not just for the Green Lake dam; the majority of the funds would actually be used for upstream improvements to improve drainage ditches and infrastructure further upstream, in Gregory and Portland, and ultimately down through the dam out into the bay.
“So it’s very positive news,” Genzer said. “Unfortunately, these processes take a long time and the dam failed before we could get to the point in the project where they could do a controlled failure of the dam and rebuild it without the loss of all the water and Green Lake.
“But it’s where we are and we’ll get through it.”
Getting through it has become the de facto motto for the country club over the past several years, after the devastation left behind from Hurricane Harvey and the rough ride of 2020 and COVID-19.
“The club’s gone through some difficult times in the last four years,” Genzer said, “but we’ve made it through and historically have always made it through, and we’ll make it through this and our intent is to come out better than we were before.”
The Northshore Country Club, which its golf course and immediate community represents a tax base of over $161 million, has seen the extended community come together to show their concern for the situation and offer help.
“We’ve got everybody working on it – the city of Portland, our mayor, our city council members, the city manager, all of our county commissioners,” Genzer said. “So it’s very important, and I think we all realize that we’re all working together to make sure that the investment that we all have in our community stays where it is.”