Built more than a half-century ago, the McMillan Dam is in need of repair.

"It's very important to make sure that this dam stays structurally-sound. Obviously if it were to breach, it would be a disaster," Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish explained.

A 2010 study conducted by the town of Ransom Canyon, determined that the dam did not meet safety design-standards set by the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

But there have been no major improvements in the last decade.

"We don't know what type of vegetation has grown underneath the dam or has presented cracks," Ransom Canyon City Administrator Elena Quintanilla said."There's also a valve on the dam that controls the water flow that needs repair. It is not functional currently."

There are renewed efforts to fix it.

Lubbock County is applying for a state-funded grant, through the General Land Office.

The grant could provide up to $10 million for the neglected structure, put under even stress by the City of Lubbock's storm drainage system.

"I'm not concerned that it's going to breach any time soon. But we also know that this is an opportunity for us to get some state funding in order to make sure that this structure is safe for the next 50 years," Parrish said.

The dam is considered "high-hazard" by the TCEQ but not because of the repairs it requires but what lies downstream, the town of Ransom Canyon.

If the dam were to fail, hundreds of homes and possibly even lives could be at risk.

"The residents, they do feel that it's very severe, because they are impacted directly if something were to occur and we feel that same way," Quintanilla said.

The dam divides Ransom Canyon and Buffalo Springs Lake, but is owned by the latter. Quintanilla says two are working together to find a solution.

"It's all about public safety. So for us it's important that we address those needs now, before they become a very severe problem," she said. 

It is unclear how much repairs will be at this time. But they will not come at a direct cost to county tax payers.

"It's not a matching grant. So the citizens of Lubbock County won't have to put up 25%, 30%, this is a full dollar amount that's available from the state," Parrish explained. "We just have to make sure that all of our 'T's are crossed and our 'I's are dotted to get this money," he added.

The county is working with the South Plains Association of Governments (SPAG) and plans to submit its application next week.

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