The Twin Buttes Dam is a complex and vital mass of engineering. As years of available water supply continue to add up behind the dam, its worth keeping in mind that as with all dams, there is also a stream management and flood control component to it.
“Behind me you’ll see the spillway for the Twin Buttes Reservoir,” said Allison Strube, Water Utilities Director for the City of San Angelo. “Any water going over the spillway would be at a much, much higher level than the conservation pool (the elevation that the reservoir is considered to be 100% full). There is a flood control component to Twin Buttes — it is designed to capture more than twice the water it is now holding before breaching the spillway.”
With these important elements of the structure in mind, we spoke to several of the city staff responsible for overseeing the health and function of the Twin Buttes Dam and Reservoir. The importance and extent of the constant monitoring procedures came into focus.
A lot rides on the health of this infrastructure. The community that depends on it has shown their care for Twin Buttes, and care for the relationship between it and Nasworthy. Release of water from the Twin Buttes gates keeps the Lake Nasworthy — an important recreational assest for the city — water level constant.
It’s an old joke that San Angelo has the most miles of dams to hold back the least amount of water than any other place in the world. While the joke is rooted in some accurate observation during drought, that may change as Twin Buttes is continuing to climb beyond the 60% full mark.
It is likely that when summer comes and Lake Nasworthy needs water from Twin Buttes, there will be less public concern about releasing water into the lake.
While it is of course hoped that the reservoir is never so full to make the spillway necessary, San Angelo can rest easy knowing that their much-needed water is not slowly bleeding away, and that all of its water infrastructure is performing as-designed in safety, and will continue to serve for many, many years to come.
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